Why are bumble bees furry?

Others types of bees aren’t, and most insects are smooth and shiny. So why do bumble bees have cute stripey coats? Insulation maybe, or something to do with aerodynamics?

I’d suspect that the fuzzier they are, the more pollen they pick up when they come into contact with the flower. Wasps, hornets, etc. that don’t primarily rely on pollen for food aren’t fuzzy - bumblebees, honeybees, etc. are.

Or not.

I think that they rely on nectar for food, and the picking up of pollen to pollinate is a secondary benefit to not dying of starvation. IANAE, though.

No, they collect the pollen from the body hairs and pack it into structures on their legs called pollen baskets for transport back to the hive. Pollen is a high protein food source used as food for immature bees.

Just speculation here:

Being fuzzy makes the bumble bee look much larger without adding much weight. This might make him less attractive to some predatitors, or possibly a more attractive mate.

Also, IRRC, bumble-bees live in burrows, not hive colonies. Hives stay warm due to many bodies paced in a small volume. In a burrow, the bumble bee might need the insulation.

You’re kidding. Wow.

Here are two pages that have close up images of honey bees. (Number 15 on the first page, fourth one from the bottom on the right hand side on the second page.) They are fuzzy.

What about the bees that are a lot bigger and fatter and fuzzier looking? They’re not honeybees, but… what?

Ever hear of the “birds and bees”? Bees are fuzzy to promote snuggling, which in turn leads to…


Okay, I thought so. But the links Zabali_Clawbane gave for pictures were for honeybees, so my brain got confused, thinking they might be the same insect with two different names.

A WAG, but maybe the fur helps to conserve body heat. Bumblebee queens in the Netherlands come out of hibernation in March, and fly around when it’s still pretty chilly.
I do know that bumblebees can raise their own bodytemperature with their fly-muscle activity.
So maybe they fly early, when it’s still cold, and they need the fur to conserve the body-heat they generate. Sounds logical, but I don’t know if it’s true.

zweisamkeit, there are many species of bee. Some live in hives, some in small familygroups, (anything from 4 to 300 individuals) and many live single. Many of those other bee-species are also larger then the ordinary honey bee. Maybe you meant one of those?

Google is your friend


Bees in general, such as honeybees, are furry to help them pick up and harvest pollen, as Fear Itself says. Pollen is one of their most important food sources, especially for raising their larvae.

Bumblebees in particular are furry for insulation. They are particularly well adapted to high altitudes and latitudes. A bee’s wing muscles must reach a quite high temperature before they can fly. Being better insulated makes them better able to fly when temperatures are low.

It’s to help them sell cereal, of course.

Excellent link with beautiful photo’s, Stranger!

I posted the pictures of fuzzy honey bees because the OP stated that:

when inquiring about why bumble bees were fuzzy. I was showing that bumble bees aren’t the only type of bee that is fuzzy. Sorry for the confusion.

I now am fascinated by the little guys. Wow, I had no idea they were so pretty! thanks. Not being sarcastic, honest. (yet.)That will come soon enough. lol.

This is my first post.

I come in peace. lol.


I hope you didn’t get stung on your way in. Welcome to the Straight Dope.

I honestly never really paid attention to the fact that bumble bees are furry. It’s interesting to see such pictures of the creatures.

Welcome. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.
Have a nice day. Fnord.