Bumbebees vs Honeybees

from: http://bumblebeeconservation.org/about-bees/faqs/honeybees-vs-bumblebees/

Bumblebee

Honeybee

  • Fat and furry appearance.
  • Smaller and slim appearance, like a wasp.
  • 24 different species of bumblebee in the UK.
  • Only one species of honeybee in Europe.
  • Different species have different lengths of tongue. This means they feed from different shaped flowers.
  • All honeybees have short tongues so they prefer open flowers.
  • Bumblebees live in nests with 50-400 bees.
  • Honeybees live in hives of up to 50,000 – 60,000 bees.
  • Only the queen hibernates, in a hole in the ground.
  • The queen and many of her daughters live in the hive all year
  • The queen lives for one year, but the other bumblebees only live for a few months.
  • The queen can live for three – four years.
  • They live in the wild, e.g. in gardens and the countryside.
  • Most honeybees are looked after by beekeepers, but there are some wild colonies.
  • Bumblebees only make small amounts of a honey-like substance to eat themselves.
  • Honeybees make lots of honey, which beekeepers can harvest to eat or sell.
  • Bumblebee populations are declining due to a shortage of flowers to feed from and places to nest in the countryside.
  • Honeybees are mainly declining due to diseases and mites, such as the Varroa mite.
  • They can sting more than once but only sting if aggravated.
  • Honeybees die after they have stung as their stinger is barbed and sticks in the skin.
  • Don’t dance but may communicate by passing pollen between worker bees.
  • Use a ‘waggle dance’ to communicate – passing on information about flower locations.