2-11. BUMBLEBEES AND HONEYBEES
Both sets of these bees are social bees having a worker caste along with fertile
males (drones) and females (queens).
a. In the bumblebees' temporary colony, only the fertilized young queen survives
the winter. When springtime comes, the young queen locates a place to find her
colony; her nest is usually associated with the ground. Generally, the nest is found in a
deserted rodent burrow; however, nests may be found in buildings and other structures
that have suitable soft materials. An individual who is working or hiking in a field where
bumblebees are nesting could unwarily step into the nest and be stung severely.
b. The honeybee (Figure 2-3) forms permanent colonies that survive from year
to year indefinitely. This social colonial hymenopterous insect (Apis mellifera) is usually
kept in hives for the honey and wax that it produces. A honeybee differs from the
related wasp especially in the heavier, hairier body and in having sucking as well as
chewing mouthparts that feed on and store pollen and nectar. The honeybee has a
rounded abdomen and when it stings, its stinger remains in the victim. The bee will fly
away and die. On the other hand, a wasp, hornet, and yellow jacket (slender body with
elongated body) retain their stingers and can sting repeatedly. The venom from the
honeybee is a water-clear liquid having a sharp, bitter taste and it can incur neurotoxic,
hemorrhagic, or hemolytic damage. The severe reactions to bee stings are usually
caused by sensitivity to bee protein, not the venom. If the victim has reactions other
than local swelling or irritation, consult a physician for immediate treatment and long-
Figure 2-3. Honeybee.