How to Identify Bees

Why are bees important
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There are many types of bee flying around the UK, some more common than others. You will notice that there are some differences like small ones, big ones, stripy ones and black ones – the list goes on!

Narrowing down exactly which bee you have seen can be tricky, after all we have over 270 species in the UK alone. Luckily as with many creatures the name may help you identify the species by colour or behaviour, like the Tawny Mining Bee for example.  

For a list of species native to the UK, check out the ‘Bees’ Menu at the top. 

Are bees important? 

YES – BEES ARE IMPORTANT! They underpin a huge part of our food production world wide and it would be very hard to do their job. 

Bee’s are very productive creatures, we’ve all heard the saying ‘busy bee’ – well this is because they are very busy little critters! It is estimated that bees are responsible for pollinating around 80% of the crops we grow, that’s an awful lot of food.

Without them we would need to fill a huge role in our food chain that would require lots of labour and lots of money! It is much easier just to help our little furry mates out.

For more on ‘Why bees are so important’ click here

How many bee species?

Worldwide there are an estimated 20,000 species of bee with an estimated population of 2 trillion! Contrary to popular belief, only 7 of these are ‘Honey Bees’ (Latin Apis Mellifera) or bees that produce honey. 

How many species are there in the UK

We have 270 species of bee in Britain, surprisingly a huge 250 of these species are ‘solitary bees’ who do not live in hives. However, these species are still essential to pollination in plant species. The biggest bee we have in the UK is Bombus ruderatus, also known as the Bumble Bee. 

With so many bee species out there it can ‘bee’ you might wonder how you get started telling them apart. The good news is that although some bees look the same, most are quite easy to identify either by the way they look or by their bee-haviour. 

Our most common bees in Britain

There are 270 different bees out there in Britain, and believe it or not they are not all part of a hive! Some bee species are what we call ‘Solitary bees’ and these guys live differently to bees like the Honey Bee, they are the introverts of the bee world. Making their homes in all kinds of ways from the Tawny Mining Bee to the Red Mason Bee

No matter the differences, all bees have one thing in common, they are pretty much all great pollinators! The least we can do is help them out a little 🙂 To help you get started with your bee helping projects we’ve compiled a list of our most common and helpful bee species.

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