Bee, Carpenter Bee, Honey Bee, Cuckoo Bees, Orchid Bees, Bumblebees
Apidae is a significantly large family of bees. The bee tribes Bombinii (Bumblebees) and Apini (Honeybees) are the most recognised in the group, but it also contains the Carpenter Bees, Orchid Bees and Cuckoo Bees, too. There have been some alterations to the way the group has been categorised due to their extensive diversity. Generally, these bees possess hairs that cover the body, a stinger (if female), and transport pollen using baskets on the legs or the hairs on the abdomen. Some bees stuff the pollen and nectar into the mouth, regurgitating a sticky mixture for young when they return to the nest. The numbers of bees have dropped dramatically over the last decade, mainly as a result of habitat loss, disease, pesticide and herbicide use, and climate change.
Bees in the family can pollinate hundreds of flowers a day, travelling many miles.
- Mature bees can vary significantly, but a good start to identifying a bee is by the location you've seen them. The shape of a bee can be used as a clue to ID. - Bumblebees tend to be larger, appearing more fluffy, with variable banding. - Honeybees are much more slender, long and thin. - Solitary bees can be anywhere in between! - Banding and colouration is a great indicator of genus or in some cases species. The tails can be categorised into yellow, red and white or buff. The hair on the thorax and head can help to some extent. - Bees can be tiny (0.5cm) or big (3cm). Colours can be bold to stripey, from red to black, ginger to yellow. - Gardeners rarely see the eggs and larvae because they spend the entirety of their time developing inside the nest.
It's not suggested to treat gardens for bees, they provide a key ecosystem service that's vital for plant reproduction! Bees and plants have evolved together for thousands of years, creating the phenomenon, we know as pollination!
Bees are extremely sensitive to 'bug-killing chemicals'. It's not advised to treat flowering plants or to spray near the latter because the bees can be affected even if they weren't intended to be.
Bees are attracted to a wide range of flowers in the garden, to name a few. Plant a range of seasonal flowers to keep bees well-fed all year round.