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I just saw the funniest video of bumblebees(?) having sex. (mirror) As they were getting it on, there seemed to be an almost audible 'moaning' coming from the pair. From what I presume it was a sexual climax we heard!

Bees have neither vocal chords nor lungs, so I wonder: what is that sound?


As the pair is mating on a newspaper, I'm almost certain we're hearing transduced vibrations from the bees made audible through the paper and not the bees themselves. (Nonetheless, what a beautifully humorous anthropomorphism! Moaning bees certainly give vivid color to the birds and the bees!)

I have multiple theories:

  1. The ejaculation of sperm by the drone is known to be 'explosive', even rupturing the endophallus and making a 'popping' sound. I wouldn't call the sound in the video 'popping' by any means, though.
  2. (Un)controlled movements of legs or wings by either of the pair. This seems very likely considering the subjective frequency of the sound, but that's just speculation on my part.
  3. Perhaps it's the queen piping? I'm really grasping with this one. I don't even know if that species' queens pipe or even have the ability to pipe.

Any excited entomologists wanna fill me in?

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  • $\begingroup$ Okay, perhaps the sound issue isn't resolved yet. this video shows a rather similar species also demonstrating that sound! $\endgroup$
    – Xunie
    Sep 14 '20 at 8:47
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Firstly, those aren't bumblebee faces ... those are big fly eyes. Those are Bumblebee Hover Flies (Volucella bombylans):

enter image description here

The noise in the first part of the video is identical to a fly flying around your head and the noise at the end sounds like what a fly would sound like when you press it against a surface like a wall or screen (or a newspaper, apparently)

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    $\begingroup$ I thought those compound eyes were rather 'fly-like', I just couldn't put my finger on it. Thanks for the species identification! As for the sound, I had someone remark the sound was similar to a fly on its back flapping its wings. $\endgroup$
    – Xunie
    Sep 13 '20 at 10:58

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