Where do Honey Bees Build Their Nests?

Honey Bee Habitat Information

Researchers believe that the original habitats of the honey bee are tropical climates and heavily forested areas. Honey bees can thrive in natural or domesticated environments, though they prefer to live in gardens, woodlands, orchards, meadows and other areas where flowering plants are abundant. Within their natural habitat, honey bees build nests inside tree cavities and under edges of objects to hide themselves from predators.

Many people believe that honey bees originated in Africa and spread to northern Europe, eastern India, China and the Americas. However, because honey bees have been domesticated to produce honey for human consumption, they are now found all over the world in different habitats.

Honey bees in temperate climates, such as European honey bees, store larger amounts of honey than other subspecies, as they need to maintain a certain temperature inside the nest to survive during winter. Bees living in these climates adapt well to their environment only when workers have created a large nest with well-insulated interiors. To collect enough honey for the next winter, foragers swarm early in the spring.

Because honey bees in tropical habitats, such as African honey bees, do not experience long weeks of cold weather, they do not need to build large and well-insulated nests, produce thousands of workers or store large amounts of honey. For a honey bee in a tropical habitat, swarming depends largely on the abundance of food sources, rather than seasonal factors. However, regardless of living in tropical or temperate climates, honey bees maintain their hives with a constant temperature of 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

During winter, honey bees consume honey and use their metabolic heat to provide warmth to all individuals of a colony. On the contrary, honey bees use the liquid from stored nectar as an evaporative coolant during warmer seasons. These methods ensure that seasonal changes do not affect their interior habitats.