Difference Between Honeybees and Bumblebees

By: | Updated: Jul-19, 2021
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Bzzzzz! Bzzzzz! Bzzzzz!

The sound of honeybees buzzing in unison can be heard from miles away. These little creatures are known for creating the sweetest and the most delicious honey, and they are called honeybees. They are usually found in hives, so that they can produce a large amount of honey for us to enjoy. They are very social creatures and they interact with each other as well as their hive queen to form a community. The queen is the leader and the one who controls the hive. The workers are the ones who do all of the work.

Summary Table

Honeybees Bumblebees
Have smoother, less fuzzy bodies Have hairy bodies, more fuzzy than that of a honeybee
Found in other parts of the world More common in the United States
Less aggressive than a bumblebee A bumblebee is more aggressive than a honeybee


Difference Between Honeybees and Bumblebees

But what are the differences between Honeybees and Bumblebees? Are they similar or are they different? Can you identify the difference between them based on their appearance and habits? Can you tell which one is which based on their behavior and characteristics? In this article, we will discuss the differences between Honeybees and Bumblebees.

Before we move on to the difference between honeybees and bumblebees, let us first learn what the two are. Let’s take a look at the definitions, the similarities, and the features of these two types of bees.

What are honeybees?

The honeybee is a species of bee, and is the only bee in the genus Apis. It has two subspecies: Apis mellifera and Apis florea. This species is distributed in many parts of the world. It lives on flowers and eats nectar. The females are mostly solitary while the males are found in colonies that contain several thousand bees. Honeybees are known to be extremely useful in pollinating crops.

What are bumblebees?

Bumblebees are any of a number of species of small to medium-sized yellowish-black bees, usually with hairy bodies, found mainly in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The genus Bombus includes some 25 species, which differ mainly in size and shape. Bumblebees feed on nectar and pollen; they build nests in sheltered places such as hollow trees or under stones or rocks, or under loose bark, logs or similar sheltering structures; their nests can contain as many as 60,000 individuals (depending on the species). They have some remarkable defensive mechanisms for their size including using foul-smelling foulbrood (a mixture of their own body secretions) to repel predators. Many bumblebee species nest in underground cavities such as mine tunnels, crevices in rocks, old bird nests, and rodent burrows. They can also be found in orchards and garden areas where they pollinate flowers and are a major source of food for some birds. Bumblebees are social insects that live in colonies.

What are the similarities between honeybees and bumblebees?

  1. Both of them are in the family Apidae.
  2. Both of them are true insects.
  3. Both of them are herbivorous and produce honey and wax as their primary source of food.
  4. Both of them belong to the order Hymenoptera (a group that includes all insects that have a divided head, two pairs of wings, and usually one pair of antennae).
  5. Both of them are the main pollinators of the crops.
  6. Both of them have two different sizes of worker bees. The size varies from 1.2 to 2.1 mm (the larger workers are called queen bees and the smaller ones are drones).
  7. Both of them can sting but only one species, the bumblebee, can do so repeatedly (which is also a feature that separates it from honeybees).
  8. The lifespan is about one year for both types of bees.
  9. Their nest is made up of wax that they make in their abdomens and then they store it in their cells (this makes it impossible for them to be stung by predators).

What are the differences between honeybees and bumblebees?

Now that we know what these two types of bees are, let’s look at the differences between them. Here are the differences between honeybees and bumblebees:

  1. The characteristics

One of the most obvious differences between honeybees and bumblebees is that the latter have hairy bodies. The body of a bumblebee is more fuzzy than that of a honeybee. In addition, the abdomen of a bumblebee is also wider than that of a honeybee.

Bumblebees are also smaller than honeybees. A honeybee measures from 1 to 1 ½ inches in length while the body of a bumblebee measures from ¾ to 1 ½ inches in length. In addition, the eyes of a bumblebee are also different from those of a honeybee. A bumblebee has small eyes with tiny black dots on them. The eyes of a honeybee are also small but have more black dots on them.

  1. The location

Another difference between honeybees and bumblebees is that the former are more common in the United States while the latter are found in other parts of the world. Bumblebees are more common in Europe, Asia, and Australia than they are in the United States. In addition, bumblebees can be found in South America, Africa, and Asia as well. On the other hand, honeybees can be found only in North America.

  1. Food sources

Honeybees mainly feed on nectar while bumblebees feed on flower petals as well as pollen from flowers. The flower petals of a bumblebee are larger than those of a honeybee because they have more nectar for their diet to meet their needs for food. Honeybees also eat pollen as well as propolis which is collected from flowers by bees with sticky lips called propolis bees or resin bees or bee glue makers to produce beeswax which is used to build combs and cover hives or wax honeycombs which hold honey and pollen together for food storage during winter months when they hibernate.

  1. Behavior

The behavior of a bumblebee is similar to that of a honeybee in the sense that they both collect nectar from flowers, but their behavior is different in other ways as well. A bumblebee is more aggressive than a honeybee and stings its prey or predator with the help of its stinger which has a pincer-like tip on it. The stingers of a bumblebee are venomous as well and cause severe pain to humans and animals alike when they sting them with their stinger which is shaped like an arrowhead.

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