I was attacked by bumble bees while planting trees today. Total of five painful stings (four on the head and neck and one on the arm).
While I was digging holes for planting, I hit a good sized rock that needed to be removed. A pile of rocks I had formed years ago for reptile and amphibian habitat was just a few feet away. I dug up the rock and tossed it onto the pile. The rock mound began to buzz...LOUDLY. I stood there and watched as 30-40 bumble bees slowly exited and hovered over the rock pile. Rarely in my life have I been described as fast, but I'm pretty sure I set an Olympic sprinting record for the 100 yards or so to my back door. The bees chased and stung me four times before I could get inside. I tried to go out about 30 minutes later to retrieve my hat and some bare root seedling trees I dropped during my escape. The bees were still waiting for me and got me once more in the head. This was only about 10-15 yards from my back door, so they were still protecting the nest nearly 80-90 yards away. An hour later was the same response but I avoided additional stings.
How long until the aggressive response of defending the hive stops?
Is this a common thing? My comfrey plants draw lots of bumblebees and I walk thru them every day without incident. I've never seen a bumblebee that was aggressive, but as Rick said, I've never disturbed a nest.
"People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do."
Years ago, one of my dogs was under the porch and came out yelping. There were bumblebees clinging tightly to its fur and stinging the crap out of this dog. My husband took off his hat and started beating the bees off the dog. That, i think, made the dog assume it was my husband that was causing the painful stinging. It was awful!
Bees on your plants won't bother you, if you don't mash them or otherwise hurt them but disturb a nest and they'll attack. The worst ones we have here are the small, black faced bumblebees. IDK a proper name for that kind, but I do know what I'd like to call them. I just don't think that language is appropriate here.
Sorry you had that encounter with them Dominic. Hope you're okay.
With forty shades of green, it's hard to be blue.
Garg 'nuair dhùisgear! Virtutis Gloria Merces