Bees are some of the most interesting insects in the United States of America. Not only do they help our flowers grow and multiple, but they are responsible for creating a natural sweetener that rivals the delicious taste and quality of Vermont maple syrup. In order to answer the question of do bumble bees make honey, you will need to understand what honey really is.   

A Little Bit about Bees

honey bees

Image Source: Pixabay

Before we answer the question, do bumble bees make honey, let's talk a little bit about bees. Boy, are there a lot of different types of bees. These insects belong to the Apidae family, which contains about 4,000 genera and 25,000 different species. Of honey bees specifically, there are seven different species. The most common type of honey bee and the one both you and I are familiar with is calledapis mellifera. 


Honey bees are the only species of bee that makes true honey. While bumble bees, carpenter bees and other types of bees may seem to be creating something that resembles honey, this is actually just nectar they are storing as a food reserve; it is not honey. And because it is not honey, humans will not eat it. This won't stop a hungry animal from enjoying the sweet treat.

Kinds of Honey Bees

honey bees in their honey combs

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There are three classifications of bees in any honey bee colony: the queen bee, worker bees, and drones.

Queen Bee

Worker Bees

Drones

Bee Communication

honey bees

Image Source: Pixabay

Probably one of the most interesting facts about bees is how they communicate with one another through dance. When a worker bee is flying around as a field bee, it will return to the hive to let others know about a good source of nectar and pollen. In order to let others know, the bee will dance.


If the flowers are within 30 yards, the bee will fly in a circle in one direction then the other; this is known as a round dance.


If the flowers are further than 30 yards away, the bee will perform a waggle dance. The direction in which the bee waggles is the direction of the flowers in relation to the sun and the hive. If the sun is overhead and the flowers are directly in front or in back of the hive, the bee will waggle straight up or straight down. If the flowers are not directly in front of behind the hive, the bee will waggle to match the number of degrees away the flowers are in relation to the sun.

How Do Bees Make Honey?

honey bees in their honey comb

Image Source: Pixabay

Before we can discuss how honey is made and answer the question "do bumble bees make honey," we must first learn exactly what honey is.

What is Honey?

How is Honey Made?

Honeycomb

Honey Use

Do Bumble Bees Make Honey?

honey in the bottles

Image Source: Pixabay

Most of us have asked ourselves “do bumble bees make honey?” While it may seem that way, as bumble bees have a hive with nectar inside, it is not actually honey. This is because the nectar is not stored for long enough for it to become honey.


Bumble bees do exactly what honey bees do: they find flowers and sip the nectar. That nectar is brought back to the hive where it is stored for later use. Unlike honey bees, the queen bee actually does much of the harvesting and storing herself.


The queen bee will emerge from hibernation and go out to find a suitable spot for a hive. She will then work to establish a colony. Part of establishing a colony involves creating a nectar pot made from the wax she secreted from her abdomen. She will then go out and gather nectar from flowers and return to the hive to deposit the nectar into the pot. The queen will feed on this nectar as she incubates her eggs.


The queen bumble bee will share her nectar with her children. Unlike the honey bee, the bumble bees do not store their nectar for long enough for it to turn into honey. They also store nectar in much smaller quantities.

Why Don’t Bumble Bees Need Honey?

The major reason why bumble bees do not need to create honey is because their life cycle is different from the honey bee. While a honey bee colony will survive through the winter, and therefore need to make sure they have the sustenance to do so, bumble bees do not make it that far.  


Only the queen bumble bee will hibernate and survive the winter. Old queens, worker bees and drones will die. The queen bee is able to survive by building up her fat reserves while she prepares for hibernation.


It is important to note that in warmer climates, bumble bees are able to survive through the winter. If there are no winter months, flowers will not become scarce, and bumble bees still will not have a reason to create large quantities of stored nectar.  

Do Bumble Bees Make Honey - The Conclusion

Do bumble bees make honey? Nope. Despite the common belief that all bees make honey, bumble bees do not.

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