Common Bees in the garden

Our garden is alive with bees of all kinds. I'm not an expert on bees I just love watching them and listening to them at work. In 2009 we had at least two nests in our garden - Buff-Tailed Bumblebees in one of our compost bins and Red-Tailed Bumblebee in a hole (probably a disused vole or mouse hole) in a flower bed.

I've had a go at using the Natural History Museum identification charts and putting a name to some of the species I see in the our garden.  If you are an expert and I've got it wrong please let me know.

If you want to support Bumblebee conservation then join The Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

In our garden bees seem to find plenty of natural sites to nest, but in a smaller, tidier or town garden it is well worth providing an artificial site. Click here for the BBCT factsheet on nest sites.

July 21st: Its interesting to see the colour of pollen collected by bees in their pollen baskets. This red-tailed bumble bee (Bombus lapidarius) has a large harvest of orange pollen from Verbascum chaxii Album.

July 27th: Cuckoo bees like the Vestal Cuckoo Bee (Bombus vestalis) lay their eggs in the nests of particular host bee species and then leave to be cared for by their unwitting foster parents. You can tell a cuckoo bee by the hairy rear legs lacking the shiny pollen basket - they don't need to collect pollen.

Buff-Tailed Bumble Bee

I think this is a Buff-Tailed Bumblebee which is a widely distributed species common in gardens.

Bees really enjoy Heleniums, feasting on the ripe florets (showing yellow pollen) around the rim of the disc. When you watch a bee on a Helenium just starting to mature like "Indianersommer" here, the bees work their way round and round the disc "hovering" up the pollen and nectar.

Centaureas are one of the favourites of bees in our garden. Probably a Buff-Tailed again on Centaurea Blewit

A veritable Buff-Tailed heaven on Echinacea "Rubinstern" and Leucathemum "Marion Bilsland"

Nepeta "Six Hills Giant" is one of the Buff-Tailed Bumblebees' favourites.

All Scabious are great bumblebee plants.

Theselook like White-Tailed Bumblebees enjoying a feast on Echinops ritro

Early Bumble Bee

Centaurea Blewit is popular in late spring / early summer. The expert from the BCCT tells me its a drone (does this mean male???)

Carder Bee

I think this is a Carder Bee. Cirsiums, like "Mount Etna" are really popular with bees in early summer.

Carders, like all bees, love Centaureas like C. karabagensis here.

Tree Bumblebee

New to the UK in 2001 and now present across England and Wales, we first saw them in our garden in May 2012.

Honey Bee

Honey Bees abound in our garden, but don't usually arrive until towards the end of June.

Red-Tailed Bumble Bee

Red-Tailed Bumblebees are quite a bit smaller than the Buff-Tailed. Here you can clearly see the long tongue inserted into a disc floret of Helenium "Kokarde".

August 19th: Wool Carder Bee (Anthidium manicatum) in our garden. So called because they "card" or strip the wooly hair from leaves like Lamb's Ear (Stachys). This one is feeding on Salvia Purple Rain

Solitary Bees

These are more difficult to identify. These include Mason bees - living in brickwork, mining bees and leaf cutter bees. Any help with identification much appreciated.

See how this one has collected lots of yellow pollen on its abdomen.

I think that this one is a Tawny Mining bee photographed on a Hemerocallis leaf in April.

This is, I think, a Leaf Cutter bee on an Astrantia.

This is another Mining Bee, possibly Andrena haemorrhoa.

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