Honeybees vs. Bumblebees vs. Plain Old Bees – What’s the Difference?

Bees are amazing pollinators that can actually be good to have in your garden. If you’ve been investigating what’s buzzing around your yard you may have noticed that not all bees look exactly alike. What’s the difference between all these different types of bees?

We’ve got the answer to that question in today’s post!

Pollination Activities of Honeybees and Bumblebees

Believe it or not, there are around 20,000 species of bees! They are all over the world except the frigid iceland of Antarctica. Honeybees and bumblebees are two of the most common species, and many people base their idea of bees off these two types.

But all bees are unique, and even these two bee species don’t act the same. One big difference between honeybees and bumblebees is the type of areas and plants they help to pollinate.

Honeybees are more common around residences where they help to pollinate up to 80% of vegetables, fruits, legumes and ornamental plants. They’re also partial to sweet, sugary human foods, which is why honeybees are often seen hovering around garbage cans where sodas and candy wrappers have been thrown out.

Bumblebees are generally pollinating plants that are found in prairie lands. Their name actually comes from the way they pollinate. When they’re inside a flower they make a rumbling buzz that shakes the pollen loose.

Other species, like carpenter bees and blueberry bees, also pollinate plants. Typically, most bees gather pollen on their bodies and move it down to “baskets” on their legs that are used to carry the pollen back home.

Stinging Capabilities

The good news is bees don’t use those painful stingers often. Unlike wasps and hornets, bees only sting if they or their hive feel threatened. However, all bees that are native to the U.S. have the ability to sting, but they don’t do it in the same way.

Take honeybees and bumblebees for example. Bumblebees are like wasps, they can sting you multiple times. Honeybees, on the other hand, can only sting you once because their stingers latch into the skin. When the honeybee tries to fly away the stinger is ripped out of their abdomen causing them to die.

Living Quarters of Different Bees

Honeybees make the characteristic wax honeycombs that are associated with bees. They’ll create honeycombs for their colony in protected areas like trees or voids in a building wall. The colonies are usually very large with up to 60,000 workers. However, something you may not know is that today it’s more common for honeybees to live in an artificial hive created by a beekeeper than a hive out in the wild.

Bumblebees also make wax cells for their nests, but they tend to live in cavities on the ground that are already burrowed out by people or other animals. Their colonies are much smaller with anywhere from 40-400 worker bees.

Carpenter bees are another very common species. They get their name because they make nests by carving out tunnels in wood. Sometimes that wood is inside a home, and they are known for being territorial – even if you were living there first.

Then there are bee species that live in a way you wouldn’t expect. Some don’t even live together in colonies, like andrenid bees. Andrenid bees are rare, solitary insects that make a single nest for themselves in dry ground that gets a good amount of sun exposure. However, Andrenid bees do tend to nest close to one another.

Controlling Bees and Their Nests

When bees become a nuisance or anytime they are around someone with allergies, population control may be needed. The key is to get the nest completely gone.

The first step is locating the nest. Honeybee nests are often the most challenging. The nests are usually in concealed, hard to reach spots because they attract other pests. Once the nest is found an insecticide dust will have to be injected into it, which may require drilling a hole in the wall of the nest. If the nest is exposed an appropriate aerosol pest spray can be used. It should be sprayed into the entrance during the late afternoon or evening when bees are less active.

Removing carpenter bees is also challenging and should be left to a professional pest control company. Special powder insecticides have to be put into wall cavities in order to essentially smoke out the bees.

Bees that nest in the ground, like andrenid bees, can be removed simply by watering down their nests. Usually the bees will relocate to find a drier spot.

Bumblebees often build their nest around ground level. Sometimes destroying the nest is as easy as pouring a soap and water solution into the entrance. In some cases you’ll need to use an insecticide that’s safe to put on the soil. Once the insecticide has done its job the nest entrance should be covered by soil so bees don’t come back.

Bees That Are Found in Alabama

Which bee species are you most likely to see in our area? Below is a list of all the species of bees that can be found in the state of Alabama:

American Bumblebee

Common Eastern Bumblenee

Eastern Carpenter Bee

Golden Northern Bumblebee


Longhorn Bee

Small Carpenter Bee

Sweat Bee

Tri-Colored Bumblebee

Have bees already started buzzing around your yard? Are their nests in the way? Do you need to get them gone for safety reasons? Call Vulcan Termite & Pest Control Inc. for safe, effective bee removal. We can put together a pest control treatment plan that targets annoying bees while protecting the rest of your home and garden!

Original Source: https://www.vulcantermite.com/seasonalpests/honeybees-vs-bumblebees-vs-plain-old-bees-whats-the-difference/