Imagine this: you’re walking through your garden when you hear a gentle buzz. You carefully kneel to inspect the flowers closely. On top of the colorful petals of one plant is a fuzzy, black and yellow insect covered in pollen. What is it? The most common bees you find in your backyard have a lot of similarities. However, they all serve different roles in their ecosystems. The more you know about different bee species, the easier it is to help take care of them and create a healthy environment for all types of pollinators. Learn how to identify different types of bees with this guide.
Bumble bees are fluffier than their honey-making counterparts. They’re also a little larger than honey bees. You can spot a bumble bee by the dense yellow and black hair that covers its entire body. If you come across a bumble bee out in the open, you’re looking at a female worker bee. Like honey bee workers, female bumble bees visit flowers and gather pollen on the hairs of their bodies.
The carpenter bee looks a lot like a bumble bee, but they’re larger and stockier with slightly less fuzz. Carpenter bees also have larger heads. However, the feature that sets carpenter bees apart the most is their tendency to drill holes in wood. A pile of sawdust on your windowsill or other exposed wood around the house indicates there might be a carpenter bee nest nearby. Despite this nuisance, carpenter bees are valuable pollinators alongside their honey bee and bumble bee counterparts.
Western Honey Bee
To beekeepers, honey bees are the jewel of the bee world. Honey bees are slightly smaller than bumble bees and carpenter bees. They are also black and yellow, but their yellow is more of a golden brown. You can also distinguish honey bees by the black stripes on their abdomens.
In addition to knowing how to identify different types of bees, professional beekeepers must learn how to identify the different members of their honey bee colonies. The majority of honey bees are female workers that are smaller than the males or the queen. Though also female, the queen bee is longer than her workers. Male honey bees, also known as drones, are also longer and wider than any of the females in the hive.
While these bee species are all important, beekeepers most often work with honey bees for the sweet and valuable honey they make. Are you curious to learn more about honey bees, their colonies, and the part they play in our world? You can grab your own beehive starter kit and venture into the magnificent world of beekeeping today.