Many people ask us if other insects make honey. Do wasps make honey? Do hornets make honey? And most commonly, do bumble bees make honey? The answer is...
No. In a previous blog I talked about the process that is involved in honey bees converting nectar into honey.
If you'd like to identify a bumble bee, check out this great article by the bumblebee conservation trust.
Nectar is the raw material that plants produce in order to entice pollinators to their flowers. As the insects are happily nuzzling their way into a flower to retrieve this sugary treat they are inadvertently brushing up against lots of pollen grains. As they fly off they distribute this pollen around, aiding the process of pollination.
Bumble bees collect nectar as it is a vital food for them. Nectar is a great source of energy. In the spring, when a queen bumble bee emerges from winter hibernation the first thing she needs is food. Without this she will not be able to begin laying eggs.
She goes out and collects nectar which she then takes back to the nest and keeps in little wax cells. This nectar will be used up fairly rapidly and this is the biggest difference between how bumbles use nectar and how honey bees use nectar. With bumble bees, nectar doesn't go through the transformation necessary to convert it into honey as it is consumed fairly rapidly.
Honey bees collect nectar in order to store it for use over winter. As they collect nectar they will eat some for energy but for most part this nectar will be passed around and eventually end up in a cell ready to be stored. Raw nectar would not be a good candidate for over-winter storage as the high moisture content would lead to fermentation. One thing that makes honey honey is that it doesn't ferment because of its low moisture content. This is what makes it such a great over-winter food source - it's longevity.
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. The population of a honey bee colony over winter is in the thousands. They stay awake and generate heat through vibration. This keeps the queen and colony warm and involves plenty of energy meaning that stores of honey are crucial.
Are you a fan of our fuzzy friends? Check out our cute toy bees for you to buy!