- There are around 20,000 species of bee in the world, but we only have 270 species in the UK
- Most bees don’t produce honey or live in colonies
- Only female bees can sting
- Just like the birds, there are also cuckoo bees! These target nests of other species and lay their eggs inside
- Bees evolved from wasps, becoming vegetarian in the process
- Although we think of bees as being a sight of summer, bumblebees are adapted to cold climates and originated from the Himalayas.
- Bees have four wings
- Honeybees communicate the location of plants through a “waggle dance”
- An old name for bumblebee was dumbledor, which is where the headmaster of Hogwarts gets his name from
- Only female bees have fathers as male bees develop from unfertilised eggs – meaning males have grandfathers but not fathers
- There are three species of bee in the UK that nest in snail shells
- Only female bees collect pollen
- Bees can be found on all continents except Antarctica
- Most bee species in the UK nest in the ground
- Many bees are named after the materials they use to line their nests – leafcutters use leaves and mason bees use mud
- Three bumblebee species have gone extinct in the UK
- Honeybees typically forage between 1-2km from the hive but have been recorded flying distances up to 10km
- Most bees typically only live for a few weeks
- Bees feed on pollen for protein, and nectar for energy (carbohydrate)
- There is a species of bee found nowhere else in the UK except Pen Llŷn in North Wales -its name is the large mason bee, Osmia xanthomelana
A study released in 2019 estimated that 1/3 of wild pollinator species in the UK have declined between 1980-2013. They face threats worldwide from habitat loss, increased application of pesticides and herbicides and climate change.
So what can YOU do to help?
Make your garden pollinator friendly
- Plant pollinator-friendly plants (look for our Saving Pollinators logo)
- Make a mini meadow
- Introduce bee hotels
- Go peat and pesticide free
- Increase water sources
- Leave a spot of uncovered ground for nesting
If you want to learn more, here is the best online resource with photos and info covering all British bees by the expert Steven Falk, and a list of resources for people to get gardening.