Bumblebees and honey bees are quite similar in many regards but there are also a lot of differences between them. One such difference is the Hive. But do bumblebees even build hives?
As a whole, bumblebees live in hives and they have a queen. But bumblebees don´t build big elaborate nests like honey bees do because a hive will only live for around a year until winter comes around. Bumblebees also don´t produce honey and only store nectar for short periods of time.
A bumblebee nest is usually very small when compared to a honey bee nest and it looks quite disorganized too.
A bumblebee hive will only have around 50 workers at most which is not much when you compare that to a beehive that can have thousands of workers.
Bumblebee nests can usually be found in dark small cavities like abandoned rodent wholes in the ground, under old tree bark, in small birdhouses, and so on.
Other than that the general behavior is very similar to that of a honey bee hive. Bumblebees raise their young inside the hive, they store food inside their nest, and they have a queen that lays all the eggs to grow the hives numbers.
What does a Bumble Bee Hive Look Like?
We all have probably seen a honey bee hive in our lives either in the wild or in captivity but only very few have probably ever seen a bumblebee hive. That is because they are usually well hidden and harder to find because not as many workers are flying in and out of the hive. So what does a bumblebee hive actually look like?
A bumblebee hive looks like a clump of round wax eggs that were randomly stuck together. It isn´t hexagon-shaped inside like honey bee nests, instead, it looks like a clump of disorganized wax containers that are shaped like small eggs. Inside these round wax containers, the grubs are raised and nectar is stored.
Bumblebee nests are usually very small compared to a beehive. And they are usually hidden inside a small cavity or buried underground.
Even though the nest looks kind of disorganized it actually isn´t. Bumblebees have their own hierarchy and organization just like bees.
Where do Bumble Bees Make Their Nests?
Honey bee nests are usually very easy to find but bumblebee nests are usually very well hidden and harder to find because they have less traffic.
Bumblebee nests can be found in dark cavities such as abandoned rodent holes, under old tree bark, in hollow trees, in small birdhouses, and so on. A bumblebee hive will only live for a year and they will usually die in the winter. So their nests are usually rather small.
You will often find bumblebee nests underground. They can be spotted by looking for dead grubs and bumblebees on the ground.
Bumblebee workers will carry dead grubs and bumblebees out of the nest and leave them in front of the entrance. If you can find a place with a few dead grubs and bumblebees then chances are that the nest is nearby.
You will also see quite some traffic near a bumblebee nest but not as much as in front of a beehive. So it might be harder to spot a bumblebee nest this way.
Lisa is one of the two founders of Animal-Knowledge. She has been very interested in animals and insects from a very young age and has owned different kinds of pets such as snails, ants, fish, turtles, mice, rats, hamsters, rabbits, a dog, … you get the idea 🙂