It's a rite of spring in my area--the bass rumble of emerging bumblebees.
In the Pacific Northwest we're blessed with lots and lots of bumblebees. Sometimes they escape the cold weather by holing up between the wood and the siding of our house. More often they find a dampish mound of leaves somewhere and rest until the spring warmth alerts them that it is time to begin doing what they do best--pollinating!
Many people have expressed to me a dislike of bumblebees. I place them about mid-scale on the continuum of grumbly-ness. They're definitely more peppery than European honeybees, but nowhere near as testy as yellowjackets.
Once while gardening in the early spring, I accidentally uncovered a nest of groggy bumblebees. They milled about on the damp soil, unable to instantly rise into the air, giving me time to cover them back up.
I gratefully share my yard with bumblebees because they are powerhouses when it comes to pollinating. And without pollinators there are no flowers. And with no flowers, there is no fruit, or vegetables. And so goes the circle of life, so to speak.
Thankfully, it's easy to attract these hairy, bumbling insects to your garden. Bumblebees love heather flowers, one of the earliest bushes to bloom in the spring. Since bublebees generally appear earlier than European honeybees, having flowers that bloom while the weather is still cool assures that the bumblebees will have plenty to eat.
Other bumble favorites are: raspberry flowers, comfrey flowers, wedding veil wiegela, apple blossoms, dogwood, daffodils and tulips.
Though bumblebees may appear constantly irritated, they really just want to be left alone to wander through the garden, sipping nectar and collecting pollen. If you get too close, the most they usually do is bump you as if to say, "Watch wher you're going!"
Often, if they wander into our screened in patio area, my son will gently guide them until they find the exit.
Given the many benefits to welcoming bumblebees to your yard and garden, I hope you will bee--or, rather, be, inspired this year to share your space with these beneficial black and yellow beauties.