Bees, just like other insects exist in different species classified into various genera and families. While most of us are familiar with the honey bee, for its honey production, there are other several species of bees around the world. Based on statistics, approximately 25,000 species of bees exist in the world while in the UK there are about 250 different species. Ever wanted to find out some of the species available in the UK? Read on as discussed below are the most common species found there.
♦ Honey Bees
These bees are members of the Apidae family. They are commonly domesticated for honey production and crops pollination. These insects live in colonies and also move in massive swarms. Hence, if they happen to attack, you will note a large cloud of bees settled on a tree or a wall. There are several types of honey bees in the world. However, the most common in the UK is the European honey bee. These types of bees produce large amounts of honey, and they also differ in colour. You will find them in black or golden brown colours, commonly occupying hollow trees and man-made structures. While there is a decline in the population of honey bees in the UK, it is believed that the native black honeybee found in northern Britain can reverse this trend. The reason behind this is that this species is more adaptable to the climate in Britain.
♦ The Bumblebee
Just like the honey bee, this type of species originates from the Apidae family. However, their colonies are not as big as those of the honey bee. Moreover, they are not aggressive, and they too bear different colours based on the type. In the world, there are roughly 300 species of bumblebees, while in the UK approximately 20 different species. In each of the species, the queen, workers and males all differ in appearance. The most common bumblebees in the UK include Buff-tailed bumblebee, Garden Bumblebee, Tree Bumblebee, Red-tailed Bumblebee, White-tailed Bumblebee, among others. Other than these types, other types of cuckoo bees commonly found in England include Field Cuckoo Bee, Red-tailed Cuckoo Bee, Forest Cuckoo Bee, Red-tailed Cuckoo Bee, among others. On the other hand, the least common bumblebees in the UK include Broken-belted Bumblebee, Shrill Carder Bee, Great Yellow Bumblebee, among others. Unlike honey bees, bumblebees do not make large combs of honey. However, they are considered to be great pollinators.
♦ Leafcutter Bees and Mason Bees
These are harmless solitary bees that construct their cocoon chambers from where they lay their eggs. They are excellent pollinators of carrots, fruits, vegetables and alfalfa which is a great source of proteins in livestock pasture. Due to this, they are commonly used for commercial bee pollination. Unlike honeybees, these species do not produce honey, they do not live in colonies and do not also have a queen. However, they are quite similar to honey bees in appearance, but their abdomen’s underside is orange. Several species of leafcutter bees exist in Britain though it’s hard to distinguish them. These bees are one of the most cost-effective bees that anyone can raise. Housing them is quite cheap considering that you do not have to mind about purchasing protective gear as they do not sting.
♦ Carpenter Bees
These species are members of the Apidae family. Most are black in colour with some having some yellow and white blend. These bees lay large eggs which are like the largest among insects.Just as leafcutter and mason bees, these bees are solitary bees. While the male cannot sting, the female can but rarely does sting unless provoked. These bees are also less hairy, unlike bumblebees. They do not form large colonies, and they bore into wood to make nests. They also excellent pollinators in native plant communities.
♦ Mining bees
Just as the name suggests, mining bees dig into the ground where they reside. They build tunnels underground, and you can easily locate their entrances as you will note mounds of soil on the ground in the form of pots. These bees are also solitary and not aggressive. They can sting but only do so to protect their eggs. They are also great pollinators both for plants and flowers, and unlike honey bees, they do not stay in large colonies. Several species of these bees are common in Britain. They are similar to honey bees, but they are smaller in size.
While bees are beneficial; both for honey production and plants pollination, you need to take protective measures to ensure that you do not distract them. Hence, you need to make sure that their dwelling areas are not places you consistently access, as despite the bee being non-aggressive, it can cause harm if it happens to think that you are attacking it.