I’ve never seen a Bumble Bee in nature. I’ve seen plenty of imported European honey bees (some of them in the wild), and plenty of Australian native bees (which are mostly solitary, so no hives for them – our few social species are stingless, which is nice).
But we don’t have Bumble Bees here, so I’ve missed out (although apparently there are some that were introduced to Tasmania and have spread widely there, but they’re making every effort that they don’t pass on to the mainland because of the negative impact they have had on native species, so perhaps I’ll need to make another trip). They do look rather jolly compared to the more streamlined bees to which I am accustomed.
But more and more species of bee are becoming endangered as their habitats are built over or mined. Then there’s the loss of whole populations of wild bumble bees that can be traced back to a fungal infection in captive populations that spread to those in the wild. Those wild pollinators are agriculturally significant – if their decline continues our historical agricultural practices may be under great threat. Commercially kept honeybees are also dying off in alarming numbers – Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) depopulates over 30% of beekeepers’ hives every year in the USA alone. Scientists still don’t know the cause of CCD.
At least 1/3 of our food supply relies on pollinators. If the bees die out, how long until we starve?