Two reports of bumble bee attacks last week were reminders that these industrious insects do not like a lawn mower passing over or too near their nests, and they will come out to register complaints. Most of our common bumble bees nest in the ground or in hollow logs; some even nest in thatch accumulations on the surface. They will emerge and attack if disturbed. Bumble bee stingers (Figure 1) are not barbed, so multiple stabs are likely.
Their venom usually produces a short-term localized reaction that includes temporary pain and swelling. However, some people experience a more severe reaction.
Be alert while mowing. Watch for bumble bees cruising low over the grass; they may be looking for a nest entrance that is in your path.
By Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist