Bumble bees are the big cumbersome bugs you see flying around your garden in the summer. Overall there are 250 known species of Bumble bees world wide, mostly living in temperate zones. They are some of the most prolific pollinators and therefore some of the most important of the bee species. They are buzz pollinators, the buzz comes from their wings that beat up to 130 times a minute!
Bumble bees in the UK
There are 25 different species of bumble bee in the UK at the moment. Unfortunately like many insect species, the bumble bee numbers are in decline due to habitat loss. The most common bumble bee in Britain is the Red Tailed Bumble bee which can be found in a wide variety of habitats.
Do Bumble Bees sting you?
Bumble bees are not aggresive but can sting you if they have been disturbed or provoked. To avoid being stung by bumble bees you should not agitate an individual or disrupt the nest. If you are stung you should seek medical advice as what to do, although in the majority of cases a bee sting is not serious unless you are alergic.
Do Bumble bees make honey?
Bumble bees collect nectar but unlike their cousins the honey bee, they do not process it into honey. Bumble bee nests are usually quite small in number & the Queen hibernates through the winter. They do however make wax just like the honey bee, this is because they also live in colonies and use wax to build their nests.
What is the difference between Bumble Bees and regular Bees?
The main difference between bumble bees and regular bees is shape & size. The bumble bee is a larger species and it is also usually very fluffy. ‘Regular’ bees are more aero dynamic and smaller in stature, bumble bees also have the iconic yellow and black stripey markings where as other species do not.
Bumble Bee vs Honey Bee
The differences between bumble bees and honey bees is quite stark. Bumble bees are big, stripy and cumbersome when flying where as honey bees are more agile. Bumble bees also do not make honey like their relative the honey bee. They are both however, great pollinators and should be treated with respect.
Different species of Bumble Bees
There are over 250 known species of Bumble bee the world over, most live in temperate climates and are most active during the warmer months, hibernating in winter. There are a few lowland tropical species & the Bombus polaris which can be found in the Northern Ellesmere Island in the high Arctic. European species have been introduced to Tasmania & New Zealand.
Bumblebee or Bumble Bee?
The correct spelling of ‘Bumble Bee’ is in two words, not Bumblebee. This is the official line from Bee World and Journal of Apicultural Research
‘Bee World and Journal of Apicultural Research, like many other entomological journals, have clear rules for the common names of bees. It is “honey bee” not “honeybee,” and “bumble bee” not “bumblebee.” This follows the common names specified by the Entomological Society of America (2021a) in their database of over 2,000 common names of insects and related organisms.’