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Interesting stuff about Bees

Bees, like ants, are really a form of specially adapted wasp. They evolved about 150 million years ago (before this early flowering plants like Magnolias were pollinated by beetles).  There are 20,000 bee species, found on every continent except Antarctica. Bees are adapted for feeding on nectar and pollen, the former primarily as an energy source and the latter primarily for protein and other nutrients. Most pollen is used as food for larvae.  There are broadly speaking three main groups - honeybees, bumblebees and solitary bees.



Bees are the only insect in the world that make food that people can eat.

Distinguished from other bees in their production of honey and construction of perennial nests from wax.  There are only seven true honey bees worldwide.

In the Uk, honeybees are the semi domesticated European honeybee that we keep in hives for their honey. Depictions of humans collecting honey from wild bees date to 15,000 years ago; efforts to domesticate them are shown in Egyptian art around 4,500 years ago.

It wasn't until the 18th century that European understanding of the colonies and biology of bees allowed the construction of the moveable comb hive so that honey could be harvested without destroying the entire colony. It would take 1,100 bees to make 1kg of honey and they would have to visit 4 million flowers



Excellent pollinators, they are vital in gardens and farming.

There are 25 species of bumblebee in the UK. Unfortunately bumblebees are in decline in Europe, probably due to the intensification of farming. Three species have gone extinct in the UK in the past 30 years alone.

In the spring the queen will come out of hibernation and look for a suitable home, to set up this years nest which will contain at its height around fifty bees.  The earliest species of bumblebees can be seen in our gardens from February and the latest through until November so its vital to have something in flower for them to feed on.


Solitary BeeSolitary bees

There are more than 200 species of solitary bee in Britain. They are so named because, unlike honeybees and bumblebees, they do not live in colonies.

The first solitary bees to appear in the garden, as early as March each year, are the miner bees. Similar to honeybees in appearance, but generally smaller. They make nests in the ground, usually in sandy soil and along paths. The female will dig the nest, stock it with nectar and pollen and then seal it, leaving the young to fend for themselves.

Also to be seen later on in the season are the leaf-cutter bees, which cut neat circles out of rose leaves and petals to build nests in dead plant stems or sometimes in stacks of old flowerpots.

All solitary bees are excellent pollinators and should be encouraged into your garden.


Make your garden more bee friendly by planting a variety of different flower shapes (not doubles) aiming for a continuous succession from February to November and avoid using pesticides.  As simple as that!