Bee Identification

Bee Species and Their Identification

Bees are essential to our ecosystem contributing to the pollination of a third of all crops. Despite the importance of bees, the insects are under global threat and are becoming an endangered species. If you have a significant bee problem and need advice contact a qualified beekeeper referred by the British Bee Keepers Association.

Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera)

This bee species is most often mistaken for a wasp, however don’t panic if you see a honey bee as they do not have an aggressive temperament. Honey bees produce honey and wax, which are valuable commodities and used in our everyday products. The insects also store their own honey for food over winter, and can live for more than one bee season.


  • Large compound eyes and three smaller eyes.
  • Red-brown thorax covered with body hair.
  • Golden-orange and black striped abdomen.
  • Pollen baskets on their rear legs.

Adult Size: 12-15mm; queens are up to 20mm.

Colony Size: up to 30,000 bees.

Common Nest Sites: hollow trees, chimneys, roof spaces and cavity walls.

Diet: pollen and nectar.


Bumble Bees (Bombus spp.)


  • Generally the bumble bee has a black thorax covered in hair – bumble bees are characterised as being hairy and ‘fury’.
  • Abdomen with varying colours and banding, as well as various tail colours.

Adult Size: up to 15mm; queens are up to 22mm.

Colony Size: up to 200 worker bees.

Common Nest Sites: holes in the tree and the ground, compost heaps, cavity walls and under sheds.

Diet: pollen and nectar.

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