|Andrena cineraria (Ashy mining bee)|
Yet, if I gave the same people a box of coloured pencils and asked them to draw me a bee, most would probably draw something black, yellow and black striped in the shape of a rugby ball; basically something more akin to a bumblebee. So there is clearly a little confusion.
I thought it might help if I wrote down some very basic information to help clear up some of this confusion..........
There are over 20,000 different species of bee in the world.
All 'worker bees' are female.
After mating, female solitary bees make nests. They do this either by excavating tunnels in the ground (ground nesting) or using pre-existing cavities in walls, trees, plant stems etc (cavity nesting). The females provision their nests with sufficient pollen for the larvae to feed on when they hatch, then they lay an egg alongside each lump of pollen, seal the nest, and die before their young complete their life cycles to become adult bees. These new adult bees remain in hibernation in their nests throughout autumn and winter... and emerge the following year in spring or summer to start their life cycle all over again.
Only female bees have a sting. Male bees do not. If a honeybee worker stings you, she dies. If bumblebees sting (which they very rarely do) they will not die. This is because the honeybee sting is barbed, whereas the bumblebee sting is more like a needle. Apart from a few exceptions, solitary bee stings are mostly redundant and incapable of even piercing the human skin.
The most important thing of all is that we provide food and habitat for ALL of these species. They all pollinate different plants, in different ways, at different times of the year, and in different habitats. DIVERSITY is the key! It is equally important that we provide for other pollinating insects like butterflies, moths, hoverflies, beetles, wasps and flies.
|Apis mellifera (Honeybee)|
|Bombus terrestris (Buff-tailed bumblebee)|
|Megachile centuncularis (Patchwork leafcutter bee)|
|Halictus rubicundus (Orange-legged Furrow-bee)|