There are about 250 different types of bee in the UK.

Bumblebees are probably the first insect you notice in the spring as they are fairly large and can be active in quite cold weather.

Queens, workers and males can look quite different making identification difficult, particularly as there are 22 species of Bumblebee in Britain.We have identified 12 on Old Down and Beggarwood

There are 6 common species which you would expect to see in most parts of the country. These do very well in gardens, but many more are either rare or declining in numbers. This is usually due to loss of suitable nest sites or the problems of finding food throughout the summer.

Different bumble bee species have tongues of different lengths so they require different types of flower. Many flowers in the garden are unsuitable as the bees are not adapted to them. Single flowered species are much better for bumbles than double flowered ones.

Cuckoo bees

Cuckoo bees do not raise their own young. They kill the queen in an established nest and lay some eggs; the worker bees then raise the cuckoo bees' young . They often look similar to the bumble bees they prey upon

The Bumble Bee Conservation Trust has an excellent website with more information on bumble bees.

For a printable leaflet about Bees on Old Down click here

Solitary bees

Many solitary bees look a bit like honey bees but most are much smaller.Many are little black bees which at first sight look like flies.Others have amazing colours ranging from the tawny mining bee which is bright orange to black and white striped Andrena Cineraria

We have at least 25 species of solitary bee on Old Down.

Some are mining bees and they spend most of their lives under ground as larvae and just emerge as flying adults for a month or two.

One species lays its eggs in empty snail shells.This is very distinctive black bee with a bright red tail

Others live in dead wood.

Bee News

Mike Edwards author of the field Guide to British Bumble bees has carried out a survey of bees on both Old Down and Beggarwood. A comprehensive report is available HERE