On Jun 25, 2013, RosinaBloom from Waihi New Zealand wrote:
This Bumble bee (Bombus terrestris) is characterized by its white-ended abdomen and looks - apart from its yellowish bands being darker - in direct comparison to the other three species in NZ namely Bombus hortorum, Bombus ruderatus and Bombus subterraneus which were introduced here in1885 and 1906 to pollinate red clover.
Four species were imported before it was realised that bumblebees tongue length differs from species to species. The most wide spread species in New Zealand, the large earth bumblebee Bombus terrestris was found to have the shortest “tongue” rendering it less effective for pollinating red clover. The other three species have the longest “tongues”. Their longer tongues can reach inside red clover flowers, which the shorter-tongued honeybees cannot do although they are excellent pollinators of the smaller white clover flowers. Compared with honeybees all bumblebees have longer tongues.
If a large earth bumblebee cannot reach the nectar in a flower it will often bite a hole in the base of the flower bypassing all the pollination specialisations of the flower. Other insects on future visits will use the same hole hence pollination will not occur.
Bumblebees are sometimes used to pollinate greenhouse and orchard crops. Only females (queens and workers) have a sting, but they are not aggressive and usually sting only if disturbed or handled roughly.
Bumblebees make their nests in holes in the ground such as rabbit burrows, or where they can burrow, such as in a compost heap. They also use hollow spaces in buildings. The cells are less regular than those made by honeybees. http://www.terrain.net.nz/friends-of-te-henui-group/local-fl...