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A lot of beekeepers are often curious about other members of the bee family like bumblebees, which can be easily sighted because of their bright black and yellow color. We have had a lot of people ask if the bumblebees can also make honey so here are some details about these vibrant-looking pollinators:
Bumblebees Live in Small Colonies
Unlike large honeybee colonies where bees can reach a population of up to 80,000, bumblebees have very tiny colonies. The queen bumblebee creates a small nest where she would raise about 150-300 bees. These bees mostly nest inside the ground or in tight spaces like the walls of a building. The queen bee lines the nest with dry moss or grass and collects pollen and nectar which is stored as food for the eggs she would lay.
Once the first batch of bumblebees hatches out of the eggs, they will take the responsibility of the colony. Like honeybee colonies, the bumblebees will develop foragers, guards, and worker bees that take care of the queen and the nest.
They are Excellent Pollinators
Bumble bees are very good pollinators. They can transfer pollen very effectively, making them useful in farms. A lot of beekeepers also keep bumblebees to encourage pollination. But the two colonies should be set at least a mile apart to avoid the risks of robbery from one colony to another.
They Do Not Have Perennial Colonies
Bumblebees do not live in perennial colonies. Once a colony begins to grow, the bees that can reproduce will start mating. If they are successfully fertilized, then they would go into hibernation. The rest of the bees in the colony would work through the winters till they die. As a result, the colony perishes and only potential queen bees hibernate through the winter season. In the next season, the queen bees will start a new colony and the cycle will continue.
They Do Not Make Honey
Honeybees do not hibernate in the winters. The colony survives off of the honey that the bees collected during the warm season. Bumblebees, on the other hand, have a different life cycle. They do not live through the winter season. This is why they do not need food like honey to help them survive the cold months. The queen bumble bee hibernates during the winter, so she does not require any diet either.
Bumblebees make food with nectar and pollen, but the quality of this food is not like honey. This food is temporary in nature, unlike honey, which can last a long time. The food that bumblebees make is also known as bee bread. This type of food is also made by honey bees to feed young larvae in the colonies. But it cannot be compared to honey which is enriched with special honeybee enzymes and is created by effectively removing most of the moisture from the nectar.
Every bee serves its purpose differently to the environment. Where honeybees provide us with delicious honey, the bumblebees are mostly helpful in pollination.