Sunday, 7 June 2015

Day 216 - Buzzily Busy Bees Part 3 - How to Identify Them and Some Facts

Hi all today's Day 216 and before I start I want to congratulate the Blue Tits on Springwatch. As I am writing this there is just one left that hasn't fledged. From what I know, I think it's mother is trying to 'starve him out' by not giving him/her any food until he comes out. I think it's very good that 9 Blue Tits have successfully fledged. They are much earlier than the Blue Tits that are living in one of my nest boxes. You can see the video of me making it below:

Now, onto today's post. As you know my family have some new neighbours but, for one, they are not of this species and, for two, they are much more buzzy than usual neighbours are. That's right. We have a bee nest in our house. As I explained in yesterday's post, we are not going to get rid of them for two reasons:
Close encounter with a Red Tailed Bumblebee ( Bombus lapidarius)
  1. They are a species in much decline and to get rid of them from a place that people won't be going near would be bad for their species. 
  2. Their nest will only last for one season so, by the end of Summer, they'll have gone! Bumblebees rarely nest in the same place two years running.
Today's post is going to be about two things also:
  1. How to identify different types of Bee
  2. Facts about different types of Bee.
So, here is a mini identification guide to some of the common species: 
  • Let's start with the Common Carder Bee, one that I have never seen. Firstly, it doesn't look like most peoples idea of a bee at all. It's completely brown apart from the antennae and eyes which are black.
Red Tailed Bumblebee on our Cotoneaster
  • The Red-Tailed Bumble Bee Males have a red tail (along with the other genders) and some yellow stripes near the head and thorax otherwise they are completely black. Females and Queens however have a red tail and are completely black. The way to tell them apart (as in all bees) is the Queen is almost double the size.
  • Tree Bumblebees have a white tail, a black thorax and a peach sort of head with black antennae, eyes and nose.
  • The White-Tailed Bumblebees have (of course) a white tail on all types. Males have a lighter Black and yellow lines on the line between the head and thorax segment, nose, above their eyes and below their eyes. Females and Queens are completely black with yellow lines below their eyes and above their tails.
There is an interactive identification guide on the Natural History Museum which is fantastic:

So, onto the facts:
Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum)
  • There are 24 species of Bumblebee in the UK and their are plans to re-introduce the Short-Haired Bumblebee.
  • Bees actually have a special scent on their feet. When they feed on a flower some of it gets left behind telling other bees that a bee has already been there and not to waste energy landing.
White Tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum )
  • If you find a tired bee on a plant somewhere near your house, don't be afraid of it as it won't hurt you. To help it get equal amounts of sugar and water and mix them and give it to the bee to drink.
  • Only bumble bees are capable of buzz pollination - they go to a flower and make a high pitched buzz which makes the plant release pollen it wouldn't do other wise. This happens with tomatoes.
Well, I hope that has given you a little bit of interest in bees, if you want to find out more try these sites:

Hope you enjoyed,



  1. Tree bumblebees have nested in my roof for the second year running, exact same spot. I'm very glad to have them too.

  2. Amazing photos Zach, love these posts! - Tasha