Bumble Bee: Mating aggregation

Bug Love Frenzy! And a Little Hitchhiker!
I just went out again to check on the bumblebees and a number of others have joined in the fun!
Can you let me know what the little hitchhiker is on the highest bumblebee?
Thanks,
Roberta
Andover, MA

Bumble Bee mating frenzy
Bumble Bee mating frenzy

Bumblebee Love
I thought you would enjoy this picture of the “bumblebee love gathering” in my garden. I always thought bees mated in the air so I was very surprised to see this in my garden today 🙂
Roberta
Andover, MA

Bumble Bees Mating
Bumble Bees Mating

Hi Roberta,
After sifting through all the Bumble Bees in the genus Bombus posted on BugGuide, and all the identification drawings on the Bumblebees of North America website, we don’t feel confident enough to give you an exact species identification.  Perhaps one of our readers can assist in this matter.  We are curious about this group mating behavior.  The detail on your photo is not sufficient for us to identify the small fly hitch-hiking on the top Bee.

Daniel:
The bumble bee mating behavior is typical of many ground-nesting bees.  Virgin queens are a hot commodity, so males flock to them and compete for an opportunity to mate.
I can’t make out what the fly is, either, but it might be a “no-see-um,” family Ceratopogonidae, most species of which do not feed on people, but suck the blood of other insects.
Eric Eaton

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bugman

BugMan aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. WhatsThatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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