Bees are vital to the gardener, pollinating our flowers, fruit and vegetables. Yet many species are now declining thanks to the combined assaults of habitat loss and use of pesticides and herbicides. Browse our gallery of some of the more common bee species likely to visit your garden, and see which ones your recognise.
Honeybee, Apis mellifera
The honeybee is a generalist feeder, visiting a wide range of garden flowers, including the astrantia, pictured.
Red-tailed bumblebee, Bombus lapidarius
The red-tailed bumblebee is a common garden bumblebee, nesting in holes in the ground and in walls. It feeds from a wide variety of flowers, including this echinacea, pictured, and seems to have a preference for yellow blooms.
Common carder bumblebee, Bombus pascuorum
The common carder bumblebee is the colour of a teddy bear, and fluffy, too. Some individuals can look quite dishevelled after a summer visiting flowers – this one feeding on lavender has lost part of its wing.
Gypsy cuckoo bumblebee Bombus bohemicus
Cuckoo bumblebees invade existing nests, kill the queen and assume the role of new queen. Cuckoo bumblebees have darker wings and longer, pointed tail than regular bumblebees.
Early bumblebee, Bombus pratorum
The early bumblebee is one of he first to emerge from hibernation in spring. Nests are short-lived and there may be two broods per season.
White-tailed bumblebee, Bombus lucorum
Male bumblebees don’t have pollen baskets on their legs and they tend to have more yellow facial hair. Here an echinacea flower is shared by a male white-tailed bumblebee (top) and a female white-tailed bumblebee (bottom).
Buff-tailed bumblebee, Bombus terrestris
The buff-tailed bumblebee is one of the most common garden species, and visits a wide variety of flowers such as this globe thistle, pictured.