Do Bumble Bees Make Honey? Exploring the Honey-Making Abilities of Bumble Bees

Do Bumble Bees Make Honey? Exploring the Honey-Making Abilities of Bumble Bees

Do Bumble Bees Make Honey? Bumble bees are one of the most important pollinators in the world, responsible for pollinating a wide variety of plants, including fruits, vegetables, and flowers. 

While honey bees are well-known for their honey-making abilities, many people wonder if bumble bees can also produce this sweet substance. In this article, we will explore the topic of whether or not bumble bees make honey.

Understanding the Difference between Honey Bees and Bumble Bees

Before diving into whether bumble bees make honey, it is essential to understand the difference between honey bees and bumble bees. While both types of bees are essential pollinators, they have some key differences.

Physical Characteristics

  • Honey bees are typically smaller than bumble bees, with a more slender body shape and distinct stripes of yellow and black.


  • On the other hand, Bumble bees are larger and have a more rounded body shape with more vibrant yellow, black, and sometimes even white stripes.

Social Behaviors

  • Honey bees live in large colonies containing thousands of individual bees, while bumble bees typically live in much smaller colonies of 50-500 individuals.

Pollination Behavior

  • When it comes to pollination behavior, honey bees are known for their “flower fidelity” – they will typically visit one type of flower at a time, which helps ensure more efficient pollination. 


  • Bumble bees, conversely, are more generalist pollinators and will often visit multiple types of flowers during a single foraging trip.

Can Bumble Bees Make Honey?

Now that we better understand the differences between honey bees and bumble bees let’s return to the original question – do bumble bees make honey?

Bumblebees make honey, but not in the same way that honeybees do. While honeybees store honey in their hives as a food source, bumblebees live in various colonies with different levels of organization.

Here are some of the critical reasons why bumblebees do not make honey:

Small colonies

Bumblebees typically live in small colonies of a few hundred individuals, compared to honeybee colonies with tens of thousands of individuals. It means that bumblebees can store small amounts of honey to feed their colony during times of scarcity.

  • Short lifespan

Bumblebees have a relatively short lifespan, typically lasting only a few months. It means they have a different need for long-term food storage than honeybees, which can live for several years.

  • Different diet

Bumblebees have a different diet than honeybees, with a preference for nectar-rich flowers. While honeybees collect nectar and store it in their hives, bumblebees consume it immediately to fuel their daily activities and produce energy for flight.

  • Different nest structure

Bumblebee nests are much less organized than honeybee hives. While honeybees build complex wax combs to store their honey and brood, bumblebees create small, simple nests in underground burrows or other protected locations.

The Process of Bumblebee Honey Making

Now, let’s take a closer look at how bumblebees make honey.

1. Collecting Nectar

Like honeybees, bumblebees collect nectar from flowers. Bumblebees use their long tongues to reach the nectar deep inside the flowers.

2. Digesting Nectar

Here, enzymes and bacteria break down the complex sugars in the nectar into simpler sugars that are easier to digest.

3. Regurgitating Nectar

After the bumblebee has digested the nectar, it regurgitates into a honeycomb. Bumblebees do not have wax glands, unlike honeybees, so they build their honeycombs out of other materials, such as grass and moss.

4. Evaporating Nectar

Once the honeycomb is in the honeycomb, the bumblebee fans its wings to evaporate the excess water, thickening the nectar and turning it into honey.

5. Storing Honey

Finally, the bumblebee seals the honeycomb with wax to protect the honey from moisture and air.

The Importance Of Bumblebees In Agriculture

Bumblebees play a crucial role in agriculture by providing pollination services to many important crops. Here are some of the critical reasons why bumblebees are so important to agriculture:

Increased crop yields

Bumblebee pollination can lead to increased crop yields and higher-quality produce. It can have significant economic benefits for farmers and consumers who rely on these crops for food.

  • Crop diversity

Bumblebees are important pollinators of many crops that are not commercially viable for human-managed pollination methods. It includes many wildflowers and specialty crops like blueberries, cranberries, and tomatoes.

  • Reduced reliance on pesticides

By providing natural pollination services, bumblebees can help to reduce the reliance on pesticides and other chemical inputs in agriculture. It can have environmental and health benefits and economic benefits for farmers who can reduce their input costs.

  • Sustainable agriculture

By protecting bumblebee habitats and promoting their populations, farmers can help promote sustainable agriculture and protect the environment’s health.


How is honey produced in bumble bees?

The honey production process in bumble bees is similar to that of honey bees. Bumble bees collect nectar from flowers and store it in a honeypot within their nest. They then fan their wings over the honeypot to evaporate the water content, creating a more concentrated honey. Once the honey has reached the desired concentration, the bumble bees seal the honeypot with wax to prevent it from spoiling.

How much honey do bees produce?

The amount of honey produced by a single bumble bee colony is relatively small compared to honey bee colonies. Bees do not need to produce as much honey because they have smaller colonies and are more active throughout the year.

Why is honey production important for bumble bees?

Honey production is essential for bumble bees because the honey stored in the honeypot is a source of energy for the colony when food is scarce. It can be necessary during the winter when fewer flowers are available for the bees to collect nectar.

For more details also read this article: Why Is Sweet Honey Dessert So Popular