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Nature & You: What do bumblebees and chickens have in common?

Seeing a bumblebee nearby might cause one to retreat, but there's more to the bumblebee than just the sting. [THINKSTOCK PHOTO]

Seeing a bumblebee nearby might cause one to retreat, but there's more to the bumblebee than just the sting. [THINKSTOCK PHOTO]

What do bumblebees and chickens have in common?

This one is going to be a tough sell.

I am going to attempt to profess to you the value and worthiness of a bug that causes a very painful sting.

Cue the bumblebee. Enter stage left.

I am fully aware the mere mention of the bumblebee generates fear and dread in the minds of most folks. Which begs the question: What's there to like about bumblebees?

Well, for one, bumblebees are very efficient pollinators. Bumblebees are big and bumbling bugs that do a lot of shaking and jostling of flowers as they are crawling around on the plant foliage. Tomato flowers especially benefit from the attention that is bestowed upon them by bumblebees. Those of us who enjoy eating homegrown tomatoes have the bumblebees to thank for their service of making sure tomato flowers turn into tomato fruits.

I can offer you yet one more example of what makes bumblebees noteworthy. This one has to do with the female bumblebee. A little-known aspect of this bug's life is the astonishing revelation that the female bumblebee actually sits on top of her eggs, purposely increases her body temperature, and she actually incubates her eggs! It is one thing for a chicken to do something like this, but I'd bet a dollar to a doughnut that you were not already aware of this tidbit of bumblebee natural history.

It kind of changes your whole attitude toward bumblebees, wouldn't you say?

... well ... maybe not.

I'm sorry; there is just nothing that I can do to minimize the part about the painful bee sting.

— Neil Garrison, NewsOK Contributor

Neil Garrison was the longtime naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center.

Neil Garrison

Neil Garrison is an outdoor nature enthusiast. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University/Stillwater; he earned a B.S. degree in Wildlife Ecology. Prior to his 2009 retirement, he was the Naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center for 30... Read more ›

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