Bees! They are incredible and are a hugely important part of the ecosystem, there are over 200 UK native species but here are my ten favourites!
1) Early Bumblebee -(Bombus pratorum)
This bumblebee has queen bees that emerge earlier than most others, often between March and May. It is a small bee and an important pollinator of soft fruit such as raspberries and blackberries. They nest underground with small colonies of around 100 workers.
2) Honey Bee – (Apis mellifera)
These are the bees we have to thank for all the delicious honey that we eat. They have been semi-domesticated for thousands of years for that reason. The hive is split into a queen who lays eggs, the workers who look after the young and the drones who are reproductive males
3) Small Garden Bumblebee – (Bombus hortorum)
Garden bumblebees are large bees which have long tongues that allow them to visit larger flowers such as foxglove and honeysuckle. They nest in small colonies of 100 individuals.
4) Red-tailed bumblebee – (Bombus lapidarius)
As the name would suggest this bee species has a red tail! Although this tail can sometimes look more orange. They have a preference for thistles, bird’s-foot trefoil and budleia flowers.
5) White-tailed bumblebee – (Bombus lucorum)
As the name would suggest this social bee species has a white tail! This species is widespread throughout the UK and feeds from early spring to early autumn.
6) Common carder bee – (Bombus pascuorum)
One of the most common social bees in the UK. This species can have a nest of around 200 individuals. They can even be seen feeding up until November!
7) Leaf-cutter Bee – (Megachile centuncularis)
This bee is an example of some of the many solitary bees. They famously cut discs out of leaves (they particularly like roses), gluing them together with saliva in order to build the ‘cells’ in which their larvae live.
8) Ivy Bee – (Colletes hederae)
These solitary bees nest in loose soil or sand and as the name suggests they feed on mostly ivy.
9) Red Mason Bee – (Osmia rufa)
These are a very common solitary bee and will often build nests in small cracks in walls so are common in urban environments. They do very well in the solitary bee hotels that you can buy for your garden. Their food plants include sallows, fruit trees and oil-seed rape.
10) Ashy mining bee – (Andrena cineraria)
The ashy mining bee is a distinctive little species with monochrome colouring. They can be seen flying between April and July and are another species of solitary bee.
I hope you can see that bees are a hugely diverse group! They come in all kinds of colours and are extremely important for pollination.
- All Images are from Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust