What Part Of The Flower Do Bees Get Nectar From Honey Bees and Bumblebees

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Honey Bees and Bumblebees

Honey bees are among the most useful creatures on earth; not only do they provide us with honey and other by-products that we can consume as food, but honeybees and other bees play a key role in pollinating plant life. It is estimated that up to 30 percent of the food consumed by humans worldwide depends on bee pollination. However, we are just as likely to find bumblebees as bees in our gardens; how are these two types of bees different?

Both are members of the Apidae family; honey bees belong to the genus Apis, and bumblebees to the genus Bombus. Although there are more than 250 known species of bumblebees, there are only 7 recognized species of honey bees. Both play a role in the pollination of plant life. Both are social animals, living in colonies, so worker bees collect nectar from flowers to take back to their colonies for consumption and food for their young.

Beekeepers raise honey bees for honey, beeswax and other commercial products; bee colonies maintained by beekeepers can last for many years, and these bees in the wild also tend to establish permanent homes. Typical honey bee colonies have 30,000 to 50,000 bees, whether domesticated or in the wild; the vast majority of bees in the colony are worker bees, which are sterile and perform almost all tasks in the community. Colonies also contain a queen, which is capable of laying eggs and producing young; and several hundred male drones, whose sole function is to mate with the queen.

Bumblebees, on the other hand, have much smaller colonies — sometimes less than a hundred bees. Bumblebees do not build permanent homes like honeybees; they often nest in tunnels in the ground, although they will sometimes build a canopy of wax for protection. Bumble bee societies are structured similarly to honey bee societies, with workers, drones, and a queen serving specific functions, but worker bumblebees are not sterile; they are capable of laying haploid eggs that develop into male drones. Only queens are capable of laying diploid eggs from which workers and queens as well as males can mature.

This reproductive competition between queen and worker results in colony behavior that differs from that of honey bees. Early in the breeding season, the queen will suppress the egg-laying ability of her workers through physical aggression as well as pheromone signals. The queen will thus produce all the first male larvae of that season, as well as all female larvae. As the queen’s ability to suppress workers declines later in the season, worker bees will also begin laying eggs that produce male larvae.

Once mature, the new males and queens will be expelled from the colony; these outcasts spend their nights on flowers or in hollows in the ground. Queens and drones will also mate with each other; the mated queen will look for a suitable place to hibernate during the winter. Next spring, the queen will come out of hibernation and find a place for the nest. The queen then forms a new colony and hatches her own eggs.

Bumblebees produce honey from the nectar they collect from flowers; the process is similar to that of honey bees. However, honeybees usually produce more honey than they need; it is so easy for beekeepers to harvest honey from domestic hives, leaving enough for the bees’ own needs. Since bumblebee colonies are much smaller, they are barely able to produce enough honey for themselves; beekeepers therefore do not try to breed bumblebees for their honey. Additionally, extracting honey from wild bumblebee nests is difficult and usually destructive. Bumblebee honey is completely edible, but it is thinner and more watery than bee honey.

Sometimes it is difficult to tell them apart, but they are different animals with different habits and life cycles.

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