Tuesday 9 July 2013

Garden Bees

If you ask most people to imagine a bee they will think of a stripy yellow and black Bumble Bee or maybe, at a push, a honeybee. In reality there are a vast number of species of bee in the UK alone and they come in all different shapes and sizes. This spring and early summer I've photographed a few in the Meet Your Neighbours style so here's a selection.


This rather furry fellow is an Andrena bee, Andrena nigroaenea

This smaller bee is a Nomada bee, probably Nomada ruficornis

and here's a picture of it sleeping with its jaws locked onto a stalk from a Chive plant

This is a Red Mason Bee, Osmia rufa

here's another Andrena bee, Andrena Haemorrhoa

I've posted this one previously, but it's a pair of Tawny Mining Bees, Andrena fulva (female on right)

and finally an unknown Bumble bee of some sort, Bombus sp.


  1. Great images, Matt. It's great to see these insects in detail, so much better than the guide books (well, the ones I have anyway!).
    Out of interest, what makes the Nomada bee a bee and not a wasp, which is what it more resembles (to my booze-adled eyes at least!). Is it down to it's stinger? There's a few bees I've seen that look more waspish and I've never sussed out a quick and easy way to tell the difference.
    Probaby a very stupid question but if you don't ask...!

    Simon "I should stick to hares" Litten

    1. Thanks very much Simon, I'm glad you like them.

      That's a good question! As far as I know the difference is purely taxonomical and so asking what makes an insect a wasp rather than a bee is like asking what makes some mammals dogs and others cats. I don't think there is a specific visible feature or characteristic that distinguishes one from the other but some are known to be from the wasp family and others from the bee family. I believe they are closely related but quite how it is possible to assign them to the 2 families I don't know. Some bees sting and some don't by the way and the same is true of wasps so I don't think it's anything to do with stingers. I agree the Nomada bees look very wasp-like and some wasps look quite bee-like. Tricky isn't it? :)

      Matt "I pretend I know about taxonomy" Cole

    2. The only distinct difference I can unearth is with their feeding - bees: nectar/pollen; wasps: insects/picnics. So I guess the only way I can easily identify them is by smelling their breathe! :-)

    3. Good luck with the breath smelling :) That's true about their diet, though both are partial to a bit of honey when they're cold. It's a good way to get them to pose. :)