Bumble Bee Honey?

(This page is a continuation of 'Do Bumble Bees Make Honey').

Can We Eat The Nectar Bumble Bees Store In Pots?

Bumble bees gather nectar and store it for a short time. No, this is vital food needed by bumble bees for rearing their colony, and is crucial for their survival.  The small amount of nectar that is gathered and placed in little wax nectar pots made by bumble bees would not be worthwhile for humans to harvest, because there is so little of it, and to attempt to do so would:

  • be an extremely fiddly task for little reward! 
  • put the survival of bumble bees, which are important pollinators and beautiful in their own right, at risk of survival.

In addition, whereas honey bees can make a large quantity of honey, remember that the honey bee colony is vast in comparison with a bumble bee colony. 

Honey bee colonies can total up to around 60,000 bees at their peak and before swarming (depending on the size of the hive or nest).

In comparison, bumble bee colonies are small - perhaps 150 to 300 bees.  Therefore, whereas honey bee colonies have vast numbers of worker bees to go out and collect nectar to make honey, there are far fewer worker bumble bees to gather the nectar. 

Put another way, it a worker honey bee will only make one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.  However, there are potentially thousands and thousands of bees in a colony together, each making this amount.

Even if every bumble bee worker in a colony could make the equivalent amount of honey, there would not be much in the nest! 

However, some animal predators will happily raid a bumble bee nest for the nectar, the nectar pots, larvae and all.  This is the natural way of things, and although I love bees I recognise that other these creatures only take what they need to survive themselves.  Humans do not need to raid bumble bee nests.

Is it fair to harvest honey from honey bees?

Many people who purchase honey do not realise it is actually the honey bee's winter food stores.

However, a responsible beekeeper will not remove more than a colony can afford to lose - some beekeepers do not harvest honey if this would harm the bees.  To do so would be irresponsible.

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