What Do Bees Eat

What Do Bees Eat

Bees have a diverse diet consisting of nectar, pollen, beebread, and royal jelly. Nectar provides energy and carbohydrates, while pollen is a rich source of protein. Beebread, a mixture of pollen and nectar, is used to feed the larvae. Royal jelly, a special secretion, is fed to the queen and larvae.


Nectar is a sweet sugar-filled liquid produced by plants to attract pollinators. Bees primarily feed on nectar, which provides them with energy and carbohydrates.

Nectar is collected by foragers, which are older worker bees with beefy flight muscles. Bees use their long tongues to extract nectar from flowers, and they store it in their honey stomachs.

The nectar is then regurgitated and passed from bee to bee until it is deposited into the honeycomb.

The bees then fan their wings to evaporate the water content, which turns the nectar into honey.


Bees also consume pollen, which is the powdery substance found on flowers. Pollen is a rich source of protein and other nutrients. It is generally fed to the larvae, but adult bees can also consume it.

Bees collect pollen by brushing against the anthers of flowers, which causes the pollen to stick to their bodies.

The bees then use their legs to brush the pollen off their bodies and onto their pollen baskets, which are located on their hind legs. The pollen is then transported back to the hive, where it is stored and used to feed the larvae.


Honey bees mix pollen with some nectar to create a high-protein food mixture called beebread.

This beebread is used to feed the immature bees, known as larvae.

Nurse bees draw on both nectar and pollen to keep the colony fed and have the job of transforming pollen into royal jelly, which they feed to larvae and to the queen, drones, and older worker bees.

Royal Jelly

Royal jelly is a special secretion produced by young, female worker bees. It contains pollen and chemicals from the glands of worker bees and is fed to the larvae and the queen bee.

Royal jelly is rich in dietary supplements, fertility stimulants, B vitamins, and other medicines. The queen bee is the only bee in the colony that is fed royal jelly throughout her life.

The other bees are only fed royal jelly during their first few days of life.


When flowers are not readily available, bees may also consume fruit as an alternative food source.

However, fruit is not a significant part of a bee’s diet, and bees primarily rely on nectar and pollen for their nutritional needs.


What happens if bees don’t get enough food?

If bees don’t get enough food, it can lead to a decline in their population and a decrease in their ability to pollinate plants. Bees require a diverse diet to maintain their health and vitality. A lack of food can also lead to malnutrition, which can make bees more susceptible to disease and parasites.

Do all bees have the same diet?

Different types of bees may have slightly different dietary preferences, but nectar and pollen are the main components of a bee’s diet. The specific types of flowers that bees visit can also impact their diet. For example, some flowers produce nectar with a higher sugar concentration than others, which can impact the bees’ energy levels.

Can bees survive on just honey?

While honey is an important food source for bees, it is not a complete diet. Bees require a diverse diet that includes nectar, pollen, and beebread to maintain their health and vitality. Honey is primarily used as a food source during the winter months when flowers are not readily available.

How can I help bees get the food they need?

You can help bees get the food they need by planting a diverse range of flowers in your garden. Bees are attracted to flowers that produce nectar and pollen, so choose flowers that bloom at different times of the year to provide a continuous food source. Avoid using pesticides and herbicides, as they can be harmful to bees and other pollinators. You can also provide a source of water for bees by placing a shallow dish of water in your garden.


Bees play a crucial role in our ecosystem, and their diet is a significant factor in their survival. By understanding the components of a bee’s diet and the importance of each, we can take steps to help protect these vital pollinators.

Planting a diverse range of flowers in your garden, avoiding the use of pesticides and herbicides, and providing a source of water for bees are all ways that you can help support these essential insects.


[1] https://knowablemagazine.org/article/food-environment/2017/whole-food-diet-beesOpens in a new tab.

[2] https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/story/why-bees-are-essential-people-and-planetOpens in a new tab.

[3] https://www.summerwindsnursery.com/ca/inspire/blog/understanding-bees/Opens in a new tab.

[4] https://www.pthomeandgarden.com/5-ways-bees-are-important-to-the-environment/Opens in a new tab.

[5] https://www.canr.msu.edu/nativeplants/pollinationOpens in a new tab.

[6] https://foe.org/blog/why-are-bees-important/Opens in a new tab.

Brian Koller

Growing up on a farm in eastern PA, I’ve grown fond of wildlife and the woods and learning about the critters and firewood and everything else in-between. I made this site to share my experiences and knowledge.

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