Honey Bee vs Bumble Bee: Difference and Comparison (2024)

Sucking nectar from plants and travelling from one plant to another, we can see bees here and there. About 20,000 species are found worldwide.

Their differences are mainly related to physical appearance, pollination habits, behaviour, and habitats. Bees can be found in colonies.

In most cases, there is a queen, Worker bees, and Drone. Only the Queen has reproductive ability.

Key Takeaways

  1. Honeybees are smaller in size compared to bumblebees.
  2. Honey bees collect nectar from flowers and produce honey, while bumblebees collect nectar and pollinate flowers.
  3. Honeybees live in large colonies, while bumblebees have smaller colonies.

Honey Bee vs Bumble Bee

The difference between honey bees and bumblebees is that bumblebees are more nutritious than honey bees but produce less honey than honey bees. While the Bumble bees are large and hairy, the honeybee is smaller and with less hair. The bumble bees body is not split up into head and abdomen.

Honey Bee vs Bumble Bee: Difference and Comparison (1)

Honey Bee cannot beat their Wings as fast as Bumblebee. They are a bit different from Bumblebee in this aspect.

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The food of honey bees contains a vegetarian diet, and the nectar is converted into honey, and the Pollen received from flowers provides them with many vitamins and minerals.

Bumblebees beat 130 or more times in one second, and while they beat their wings, their large body also vibrates along with it, and this, in turn, leads to the beating in the flowers.

They vibrate till the time the pollination is released by the flowers, and this type of pollination is known as buzz pollination.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonHoney BeeBumble Bee
Physical AppearanceSmall and thin with hairs. They are yellow with black bandsThey are less hairy and have yellow bands on black bodies
HabitatHexagonal hivesUnderground nests are made or they thrive in leftover nests of rats or birds
ColoniesThey are thousands in numberThey consist of 40-500
HibernationTheir queen doesn’t hibernateQueens hibernate in winters
CommunicationThey dance to communicate and let their co-workers know about the food and its locationThey use wing vibrations and chemical signals
when they need to communicate

What is Honey Bee?

If we look at the physical characteristics of honey bees, we notice that they are 1.2cm in size or 15mm or 0.5 inches. The head and thorax are differentiated, and they are of varied colours.

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Two large compound eyes and three eyes, which are simple and on top of the head. They are yellow and have black bands.

We have a lot of advantages from honeybees, such as being the crop pollinator. They increase our monetary value in the market by the large production of crops.

We also get Honey, Pollen, Royal Jelly, beeswax, and propolis for our uses.

How do they reproduce?

1. The sperm is stored in a sac called spermatheca by the queen, and they can control the fertilization of eggs with the help of it.

2. Queen lays two types of eggs, the first one is fertilized, which later grows into a female, and the unfertilized one turns into a drone. The female Honey Bee later became a virgin queen. Those who are in the cells which are vertical and huger than the ordinary size, the queen cell will later become a queen.

3. After hatching, the virgin queens are given Royal jelly to dine, which is generated from the salivary gland of the squad of workers. If that Royal Jelly is not given to the virgin Queen, it will turn into a worker and not the Queen.

4. The movement of them in large numbers from one place to another is known as swarming.

Honey Bee vs Bumble Bee: Difference and Comparison (2)

What is Bumble Bee?

There are 255 species and two types of Bumblebee. The first one is Bombus which is a nest builder, and the second one is Psithyrus which is a parasite. Both of them are found in Great Britain and North Asia.

Psithyrus don’t have any workers, so they lay their eggs in the Bombus best, and the Bombus workers take care of the egg. There is even one endangered Bumblebee which is known as the rusty patched Bumblebee.

Physical characteristics

They are hairy, and their size includes 1.5 to 2.5 cm and is black and yellow with some broad bands. They live under the ground. Their nest includes a queen, a male drone, and workers. They consume food such as nectar and pollen, which are made by the plant.

How does reproduction happen?

1. After the hibernation process in winter, the Bombus queen, who is like a mother to her colony, lays eggs in the nest and sits there for almost two weeks to keep them warm.

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2. The first brood reaches 4-8 worker bees. They become adults and start doing the duties of the queen, that is, collecting pollen and taking care of hives.

3. Queen then takes retirement and is only authorized to keep laying the eggs.

4. For a noticeable amount of time, only worker bees are produced, and when the number reaches 500, then they stop. One should know that a group of bumblebees which is from 50 to 500 is known as Colony.

5. In late summer, when they have sufficient workers to bring the food, males and new Queens are produced. Here the males developed from the eggs laid by the queen, which were unfertilized, and some from the eggs laid by the workers.

6. Gradually, the queen stops laying the eggs, and the colony, as well as the Queen, dies.

7. Now, the leftover eggs are attacked by some moths and beetles, and thus, the colony of bumblebees comes to an end.

Honey Bee vs Bumble Bee: Difference and Comparison (3)

Main Differences Between Honey Bee and Bumble Bee

  1. Honey bees get only one chance to bite, whereas bumble bees are lucky enough to bite several times in their lifetime.
  2. Honey bees are more patient, whereas bumble bees are good workers.
  3. Honey bees utilize the depository to feed their people during winter, whereas bumble bees accumulate food in their exoskeleton.
  4. Honeybees belong to the Apis species, while bumblebees belong to the Bombus species.
  5. When on the one hand, there is a surplus production of honey by honey bees. On the other hand, bumblebees don’t produce in that amount, so they are not domesticated.
Honey Bee vs Bumble Bee: Difference and Comparison (4)


  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2311.2006.00823.x
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2402083

Last Updated : 17 August, 2023

Honey Bee vs Bumble Bee: Difference and Comparison (5)

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Honey Bee vs Bumble Bee: Difference and Comparison (6)

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Honey Bee vs Bumble Bee: Difference and Comparison (2024)


Honey Bee vs Bumble Bee: Difference and Comparison? ›

Although the hair and coloring are the most obvious differences, there are others: Honey bees (at least the females) have a much more pointed abdomen than bumble bees. Although a male honey bee has a rounded abdomen, you will rarely see one outside of the hive.

What is the difference between bumble bees and honey bees? ›

Bumblebees prefer to live underground in burrows they dig for themselves. Honey bees, on the other hand, usually create hives in trees and other above-ground sites. Both of these groups use the pollen they find within flowers as a food source and make honey in their nests and hives.

What do bumblebees and honeybees have in common? ›

Bumblebees and honeybees both live in colonies. They each have a body of female worker bees, a single egg-producing queen and a number of male drone bees. However, bumblebee colonies are annual and die out at the end of summer, while honeybee colonies can live for decades.

How can you tell the difference between honey bees? ›

Identify the body shape of the insect.

The easiest way to differentiate a honey bee from other types of bees or wasps is to look at the shape of their thorax and abdomen. Honey bees have a distinctive barrel-shaped body and don't have a thin middle section between the thorax and abdomen like other insects.

Are honey bees more aggressive than bumblebees? ›

Bumble bees are not as defensive or as numerous as honey bees; however, the females are capable of stinging repeatedly. They are similar to other species of social bees and wasps because they normally attack and sting only when their nest is disturbed.

Are bumblebees more friendly than honey bees? ›

Although neither type of bee is typically aggressive, bumblebees are slightly more aggressive than honeybees. A bumblebee will sting a person if they feel threatened. They can use their smooth stinger to attack repeatedly, but these bees don't usually swarm to sting in large numbers.

What is the lifespan of a bumblebee? ›

Worker bumble bees have relatively short lives – four weeks is the average lifespan. At the end of the season, only the new queens will live to establish new colonies the following year - the rest of the colony dies. Old bumble bees often can be identified by their ragged wings.

What looks like a honey bee but is not? ›

This publication summarizes the insects that mimic bees including flies, wasps and moths, and which ones are pollinators. Some examples of bee mimics described are hover flies, bee flies, yellowjackets, hornets, paper wasps and hummingbird moths.

What looks like a bumblebee but is not? ›

Carpenter bees are commonly confused with bumble bees. One easy way to tell the difference is to look at the abdomen. If the abdomen is shiny and not hairy, you probably have a carpenter bee. Carpenter bees may also have much larger heads, proportionally.

Can honey bees and bumblebees coexist? ›

Honeybees and bumble bees get along fine. They eat the same food, nectar and pollen from flowers, but they don't fight over it. They don't conflict over nest sites, as honeybees nest in hollow trees, in man-made hives or sometimes in building cavities, while bumblebees nest in holes in the ground or in decaying logs.

What are the 3 main bees? ›

A honey bee colony typically consists of three kinds of adult bees: workers, drones, and a queen. Several thousand worker bees cooperate in nest building, food collection, and brood rearing.

What is unique about bumble bees? ›

Bumble bees are able to fly in cooler temperatures and lower light levels than many other bees, and they perform a behavior called “buzz pollination,” in which the bee grabs the pollen producing structure of the flower in her jaws and vibrates her wing musculature.

Is bumblebee honey edible? ›

To ensure they have enough energy for the winter, honeybees build large stores of honey in summer, which is then harvested by us. The queen bumblebee and her workers, however, build up little to no supply of honey for the winter. As such, bumblebees do indeed make honey, but it cannot be collected and used by humans.

Can bumble bees sting you? ›

Like most other stinging wasps and bees, bumblebees sting to defend themselves and their nest. Bumblebees, unlike honeybees, are able to sting multiple times, but they are much less likely to sting than hornets, yellow jackets or honeybees.

Why do bumble bees hover around me? ›

Bumblebees are earth healers, Very curious, loving, and at most can sense energy. They probably sense you tend their garden and follow you due to your positive energy. They are amazing, and very intelligent creatures and do no harm unless threatened...

What are the 3 types of honey bees? ›

A honey bee colony typically consists of three kinds of adult bees: workers, drones, and a queen. Several thousand worker bees cooperate in nest building, food collection, and brood rearing.

Are bumble bees aggressive? ›

Typically, bumblebees are docile and may even befriend humans. They will sting if mishandled or threatened, however. Though bumblebees are rarely aggressive, they are defensive of their nests and food sources.

Are bumble bees friendly? ›

While a lot of people may be nervous about bees, bumble bees are rather docile and reluctant to sting. They will only sting if they are getting smooshed or if you threaten their nest. In general, bumble bees are tolerant of people, so you can get close and observe them without bothering them.

Do male bumble bees make honey? ›

So bumble bees do collect nectar, the raw material that eventually becomes honey but they do not convert nectar into honey. Unlike a colony of honey bees, a bumble bee nest is relatively small and the queen spends winter hibernating alone.


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