Bumblebee Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Lindsy Frazer

Dr. Frazer has taught several college level Science courses and has a master's degree in Human Biology and a PhD in Library and Information Science.

Not all bees live in hives - bumblebees live in underground nests. Learn more about where bumblebees live, how they communicate, why they are a farmer's best friend and more interesting bumblebee facts in this lesson.

What Do Bumblebees Look Like?

Not all bees are yellow and black. Bumblebees, like many other kinds of bees, can have yellow and black stripes, but some bumblebees also have red, orange or white stripes.

Bumblebees' bodies can be up to an inch long and are covered in fur. The fur helps the bees collect pollen from plants and keeps them warm. Bees can only fly if their wing muscles are warm, so bumblebees' furry bodies let them fly on cold days when other kinds of bees, like honey bees, cannot.

Bumblebees can have yellow, black, red, orange or white stripes and their bodies are covered in fur.
Bumble Bee Red Tail

The buzzing sound you hear when a bumblebee flies by is made by the vibration of the muscles they use to move their wings. Because they flap between 130 and 240 times a second, it might be hard to tell, but bumblebees have four wings. These powerful wings make bumblebees fast fliers; they can fly over 12 miles an hour.

Where Do Bumblebees Live?

When we think about bees' homes, we usually think about bee hives. But even though they can fly up high, bumblebees actually live down low in underground nests made of wax. Bumblebees build their nests in old burrows, which are underground holes left behind by small animals, like mice. Each nest is about a foot long and has many exits, so bumblebees can come and go in all directions.

Friendly Fliers

Bumblebees are social, or friendly, insects, so they live in colonies, which are large groups. Up to 400 bees can live in a single underground nest. Each bumblebee colony has a queen bee who rules the nest and lays eggs, and worker bees to gather food, clean the nest and keep the colony safe.

Bumblebees live in large groups in underground nests made of wax.
Bumblebee nest

Farmer's Helper

Bumblebees eat pollen and drink nectar, a sugary syrup made by plants. Worker bees fly from flower to flower collecting nectar and carry it back to the nest to feed the queen bee and her babies.

Bumblebees are a farmer's best friend because they help pollinate, or spread pollen from plant to plant, when they eat. When a bumblebee lands on a flower for a snack, pollen sticks to the bee's furry body and feet. After eating, the bee flies to the next flower, carrying the pollen with it. When the pollen rubs off onto the new flower it helps that flower make seeds. Next time you eat an apple, cherry or tomato, thank a bumblebee for helping those plants make seeds and grow.

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