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How many species of bees are there in the UK?

How many species of bees are there in the UK?

You may be surprised to hear that there are over 200 species of bee found in the UK. That’s a long list! So we have made it easier for you by choosing our favourite three bees that we think you need to bee-aware of.

The Honeybee

The first bee species is the famous honeybee. Only one type of honeybee exists in the UK, and it is known as the European honeybee.

The European honeybee is a social bee species. This means they are led by a queen and serviced by male drones and female worker bees. They live in hives of between 20,000 and 60,000 bees and within the hive, the honeybees work together to create honey in time for it to be stored during the summer months.

Over time, the queen will leave her hive for a new colony, leaving behind the worker bees to find a replacement queen.

This is a honeybee!

The Bumblebee

Like the honeybee, the humble bumblebee is also a social bee species. However, unlike the honeybee, which is slim and narrow in its appearance, the bumblebee has a rounded, fluffy, black, and yellow body. It is the bee which probably comes to mind when you think of a ‘typical’ bee!

It may come as a surprise to find out that bumblebees very rarely sting people or animals. However, they are known to make a lot of noise when they bash into your windows in an attempt to understand how glass works.

Did you know! The former name for bumblebees was “Dumbledore”, which is where JK Rowling got the name for her Harry Potter character Dumbledore.  

The Solitary Bee

Not all of the black and yellow bees are honey bees or bumble bees. In fact the majority of bees in the UK are solitary bees. Solitary bees tend to be smaller and their family unit is made up of a single pair. They are often confused with other insects which share similar colour markings, such as wasps, hornets, hoverflies, and bee flies. 

As their name suggests, solitary bees live on their own and they survive in the wild by making burrows underground, or living in quarry faces, old wood, and even in masonry. 

A new solitary bee has generated a buzzzzz

A solitary bee species, commonly found in continental Europe, was recently spotted for the first time in the Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park. The Natural History Museum scientist David Notton first noticed the bee making use of nesting boxes provided by the site. 

While it is unexpected to find a new bee species in central London, Notton noted that the species is in fact, 'a great example of how important urban green spaces are for giving pollinators a home and illustrates how putting bee nesting boxes in gardens and parks can help support pollinators.’ 

Did you know!

Beeble has its own beehive on the roof of our office in Covent Garden. Our London bees can be spotted travelling across the city to our neighbouring hives at the Ritz in Piccadilly and pollinating the flowers in Her Majesty’s garden at Buckingham Palace. In the spring and summer months, look out for our bees buzzing around!

Beeble co-founder Nicola on top of the Beeble offices with our hive!

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