Bumblebees and honeybees 

If you sit outside in a garden full of flowers, you will hear buzzing all around you. But are they bumblebees or honeybees? Bumblebees and honeybees resemble each other in many respects; they are of course related.  Bumblebees and honeybees both have six legs, five eyes, four wings, three body segments, two antennae and one stinger. However, there are also differences.

A bumblebee is larger than a honeybee and also has more hairs. That makes them look even larger. 

Bumblebee and honeybee
Flying bumblebee

Bumblebees are not aggressive.  The females can sting, but rarely do. The stinger of the bumblebee doesn't remain in the victim of a sting, unlike that of the honeybee. A bumblebee doesn't die after stinging and can use its stinger on more than one occasion, like wasps.

A bumblebee lives in a colony with one queen and up to 500 other worker bees. A honeybee colony also has one queen but has up to 50,000 worker bees. A queen bumblebee doesn't lay her eggs in a honeycomb. She lays them in tiny pots built from pollen.

Honeybees are able to tell each other where good food can be found. They do a dance at the entrance to their hive indicating the direction the others should take to find the food. Bumblebees often fly alone. They also switch more between different flowers and don't tell each other where they found food.  

Honeybees and bumblebees are important for the pollination of plants. They transport pollen from one flower to the pistil of another. About twenty years ago, it was established that bumblebees could be used very well in greenhouses for the purposes of pollination. Bees love to be among fruit trees.

Bumblebee nest box for outdoor crops

Fruit growers are therefore keen to use bees in their orchards, boosting their fruit production. Compared with honeybees, bumblebees can cope better with low temperatures and lower light levels. They also work more quickly. They are therefore often used in fruit cultivation to supplement the work of the honeybees.

Honeybees and bumblebees therefore perform useful work for people. 


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