August 23

Bumblebees vs Honeybees

I recently posted about honeybees, but how do they differ from bumblebees? Although they are both insects with six legs and three body parts, there are many differences between the two species.

Honeybees are domesticated and produce honey, while bumblebees are always wild and produce a minimal amount of honey. The bumblebee body is large, round and furry while the honeybee is much thinner, and its four wings are distinct. Most bumblebee species prefer to make hives underground and the colony is smaller than the above ground hives of the honeybee. A bumblebee can sting multiple times, unlike a honeybee that can only sting once. Only the queen bumblebee will survive the winter, but the honeybee colony will remain intact through the winter months.

Look at those compound eyes! See previous post about insect eyes.

There are more species of bumblebees than honeybees, and of the two groups, they are the better pollinators. Using your knowledge of their bodies, why do you think this is true? Observe bumblebees at work.

Click here to view full screen.

In a past lab, we pretended to be pollinators. Sugar water (nectar) was in the cup and “pollen” rubbed off the Cheetos (stamens) onto our hands, like it does on a bee’s legs. The straw was our long tongue that we inserted inside the flower.

An informative book to add to your collection:

See the source image

What an ideal time to listen to the Flight of the Bumblebee by Rimsky-Korsakov. Click here to watch full screen. Use this as a movement activity and dramatize pollinating flowers with your young scientists.