What Do Bumblebees Eat? The Bumblebee’s Usual Diet

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What do bumblebees eat? Virtually all bees eat the same thing, so bumblebees shouldn’t be any different. Flowers are also their main source of nourishment because it contains two basic bee foods, the pollen and the nectar. But did you know that they also make honey? Here are the three main courses of a meal fit for a fuzzy bumblebee.

What Do Bumblebees Eat? The Bumblebee’s Usual Diet

Bumblebees directly eat nectar and pollen, but they make honey too.

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Pollen

Pollen is that powdery stuff you get from a flower. It’s that chalky substance that sticks to your clothes when you walk through trails. It comes in a variety of colors, depending on the flower’s color scheme, but the most common ones are yellow or gold.

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Foragers gather pollen manually by flying from one flower to another. They place it in their corbicula, a convenient part of their hind legs that’s used for transporting pollen. You might know this as the bee’s pollen basket. Those small yellow balls attached to its legs are pollen strategically bunched up together, so they’d be easier to carry.

For bumblebees, pollen is a vital source of nutrition. It’s typically fed to the queen and her larvae initially. That’s because it’s rich in protein. It’s perfect for maintaining the queen’s reproductive organs, and it stimulates growth and development among the grubs.

Nectar

Bumblebees also love nectar. This flower secretion is very rich in sugar, so it’s their main source of carbohydrates.

Nectar is highly ideal for worker bees, the busiest members of the colony. It provides them with a lot of energy to do all their daily chores. And it also gives them enough water to balance their diet.

Honey

Bumblebee honey may not be popular, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t make it. After all, honey is not exclusive to the honey bees. It’s actually made by many species, even though the composition, taste and appearance vary.

The honey that bumblebees make isn’t the usual amber syrup that we see in supermarkets. It’s different. Some people would even describe it as honey with a “stronger” flavor. This is probably due to the bumblebee’s unusually long tongue. Like honey bees, they also make their honey by extracting nectar from flowers using their mouthparts. However, the bumblebee’s longer tongue enables it to harvest nectar from tricky flowers like red clovers, blooms that usually don’t grant access to honey bees.

What do bumblebees eat - red clover 2

Here’s a bumblebee trying to get nectar out of a red clover.

Bumblebees carry the nectar into their nest by temporarily placing it inside their stomachs. They then regurgitate it back out for direct feeding or storing. The nectar stored inside the circular wax chambers are mixed with spare pollen and the bees’ saliva. It then ferments over time and eventually becomes honey. If you’d like to know more about this particular process, head on to our post here.

Out of all the three answers to the question “ What do bumblebees eat? ” honey is the most surprising. A lot of us don’t know this because of the honey bee’s immense popularity.

However, some people do try to harvest bumblebee honey. But many give up in the long run since it’s just not that convenient. The bees don’t make a lot of honey, and their nests don’t last long.