Blandford and Sturminster Beekeepers Association
Blandford and Sturminster Beekeepers Association

Bee Identification

This is a swarm of honey bees.  You can see how they hang in a cluster from the branch of a tree, with thousands of bees in a swarm.  They are usually very docile and not considered dangerous if left alone.

Bumble Bees are larger, rounder and more hairy than honey bees.  There are only a few hundred in a colony; often they nest in bird boxes, compost heaps and holes in the ground.  There are 25 different species in the UK with slightly different markings and colours - particularly the tail colour.  The Bumble Bee Conservation Trust has a useful guide to the main types.


There are about 250 species of Solitary Bee in Britain.  They are generally smaller than bumble bees and quite furry, and they do not live in colonies.  The Wildlife Trusts have produced some useful information on Solitary Bees on their website.


If it is yellow and black with thin wings it is a wasp (or, if quite large, possibly a hornet)


The Asian Hornet is widespread in Europe and will without doubt spread into Britain in the near future.  It is similar in size to the native European Hornet but different in colour and behaviour.  It is no more dangerous to humans that our native insect but is a voracious predator of honey bee hives.  See here for further details including identification, but someone who has seen one says that the main initial impression is of an unfamiliar black insect moving very quickly.  If you think you have seen one, check very carefully and if possible get a photograph and then report it as described.  This is an Invasive Non-Native Species and must be reported. 


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