Once you start looking you’ll soon see how many different types of bee there are.  Most people think honey bee but we’ve so many more in our gardens and some of them are burrowing or solitary bees.  It’s important to observe and find out what bees you have as you can then ensure you provide the right habitat for them as well as the food.  

There are 24 species of bumblebee in the UK, and the sight of these clumsy balls of fluff zooming from flower to flower on a sunny day is delightful. They are a social species, nesting in colonies ranging from a few dozen to several hundred bees. They fall predominately into 3 groups and it’s a good way to start your identification – whitetail – red-tailed and ginger- yellow.  The males, females and queen are slightly different.  We’ve put a couple of links to sites that provide good illustrations on how to identify your bees

What kind of bee have I seen?  The Bumble Bee Conservation Trust has lots of interesting information.  The link here is to their identification page which starts with the three different types and then goes into more detail with those categories.  They show you on a map where the various species have been sighted.  They give illustrations to help with identification as well as photos and you can order pocket guides for specific species.

 What kind of bee have I seen?  Friends of the Earth has taken a different approach to the identification of bees and provided really good quality illustrations with key information about the specific bee which includes what time of year you can expect to see them, their nesting habitats, ID tips and a short but useful description.  Bee Identification

Support solitary bees in your garden by providing a home  The Bee Guardian Scheme  The focus of the scheme is on red mason bees which are solitary bees and absolutely brilliant pollinators.  This is a great gift to give someone who’s keen to do more for bees.  Your kit includes the equipment needed to provide shelter for a small population of red mason bees which are sent to you in the spring.  There are full instructions on where to put the shelter and what to do with the cacoons you receive.  At the end of the season, you send back your tubes with the larvae in them.  These are opened and screened for parasites and stored safely before new ones are sent out in the spring.  In Chloe’s first season she started with about 15 but sent back 41 – so exciting to be helping out.

Winter Flowering Plants that the bees love  – did you know that bumblebees are and about though the winter.  Spend a little time on a still day by a mahonia tree or winter-flowering honeysuckle and there’s a good chance of seeing a bumblebee and a really good chance of seeing honey bees if the plant is in the sun.