The Top 5 Bees of Britain

Bees are brilliant. At some point all those tasty things we eat is thanks to a busy bee somewhere.

Yet we’re not being great to the bee. Pesticides and loss of flowery meadows seem to be causing bee numbers to decrease.

The first step to know for sure is by counting them. The more we know the more likely we can figure out a way to help.  Friends of the Earth have made a great app for making it as easy as possible to tick off your bees on your phone and helps you identify them to.

For me the best way to learn is to draw! I started with the top 5 most spotted bees in Britain from the 2015 bee count.

White-tailed bumblebees

C white tailed bumblebeeLemony yellow stripes and a nice clean white bottom (it’s all about the base when it comes to bumblebees).  Males have yellow head fuzz.  Very similar to the buff-tailed bumblebee which has more of a buff coloured tail and  orangy-yellow stripes.

Honey bee

C honeybee

The odd ones out.  Smaller and a lot less fuzzy.  Oh, also makes honey.

Early bumblebee

C early bumblebee

Teeny bees.  Two yellow bands though the workers appear to only have one. Males have yellow face fluff. The tail starts dark orange-red but over times fades.

Red-tailed bumblebee

C redtailed bumblebee

Smart looking black bees with distinctive fiery bottoms. Males have that yellow fuzz which seems to be all the rage.  Black and red are the colours of the rare red-shanked carder bee, but any confusion can be solved by checking out the legs. Bumblebees have hairy legs – but good luck trying to spot them as they whiz by.

Tree bumblebee

C tree bumblebee

Wears a brown jumper and white pants.  Lives in trees rather than in holes in the ground, sometimes taking other bird boxes. They turned up in the UK in 2001 but has now spread across England and Wales.

There are many more gorgeous bees to paint and one day I hope I will and make a sexy poster 🙂

Happy spotting.


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