Actual Size: ¾” –  1”

Characteristics: Hairy body, black usually with yellow or white bands

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Prefer to nest in the ground but also in soffits or attics. They can be seen around patio areas or decks.


  • Bumblebees can sting repeatedly and do not die after stinging
  • Defend their nests aggressively and may chase people
  • Important pollinators that do not produce much honey

Bumblebees in Iowa

With more than 250 species worldwide, bumblebees are one of the most common types of bees. They are most known for being large, round insects with dense branches setae (hairs) covering their bodies. Bumble have short stubby wings and are beneficial as pollinators for many kinds of crops and ornamentals. Their wings beat 130 times or more per second according to the National Wildlife Federation. The beating combined with their large bodies vibrates flowers until they release pollen, which is called buzz pollination. This helps plants produce more fruit.

Bumblebee Habits & Nests

Queen bumblebees survive the winter. They hibernate in the soil in a location that will not warm up too quickly or too early in the spring (to avoid a potentially lethal early emergence). After emerging from an overwintering site, alone queen seeks out a suitable site to begin a new colony. Most bumblebees construct nests made of mud or clay in dry, dark underground tunnels made by other animals, such as old rodent burrows. Some bumble bees nest above ground in rock or tree crevices, around patio areas or decks, under porches or in the eaves of roofs. They will build in any dry, protected area they find. Colonies are typically 50 to 400 bees, making their colonies much smaller than other types of bees.

Bumblebee Behaviors & Dangers

With a smooth stinger, bumblebees are capable of stinging more than once. Only female bumblebees can sting. Male bumblebees, on the other hand, cannot sting at all since they do not have a stinger. As part of the aggressive defense of their nests, bumble bees will chase invaders for a considerable distance. The bumblebee sting is considered to be one of the most painful. If severe symptoms or an allergic reaction is experienced, it’s important to always seek medical attention.

If you are dealing with bumblebees near your Des Moines property, it’s safest to contact a licensed bee control specialist near you.