How to identify different types of bees?


How to identify different types of bees?

How to identify different types of bees?

You were stuck by a yellow-black flying insect and you think it's a bee? But you would be hard pressed to be stung by one unless you accidentally smushed it or attacked its hive. Bees are truly not interested in people at all. They are interested in plants and flowers. If you've been stung, it was most likely by a wasp such as a yellow jacket. In general, many wasps resemble bees in appearance but wasps have little hair, bright colors and a very narrow waist (the junction between the thorax and abdomen). Most species have black and yellow color patterns. Unlike bees, wasp legs tend to hang down during flight. They are much more aggressive than bees and far more likely to sting. Also, most wasps provide no pollination services.
Here are different types of bees, a fly that mimics bees and wasps that you're most likely to encounter in your vegetable or ornamental garden, no matter where you live.

1. Honeybees


These bees, which were imported to pollinate agricultural crops, are easy to distinguish from native bees by their coloring, which is golden brown with black abdominal stripes. The honeybees you'll see are female workers. Look closely at them, and if they've been visiting flowers you will notice yellow pollen on their legs. As the bees collect pollen, they move it across their bodies and to their legs where they place it in little baskets.
Honeybees live in artificial hives maintained by professional or hobbyist beekeepers. Only rarely do they live in wild colonies. Even if you don't think you have a beekeeper in your neighborhood you may still see honeybees. They will fly three-plus miles from their hive to find what they need. Pollination by honeybees only occurs when pollen, for whatever reason, doesn’t get into their pollen baskets.
One the rare chance a honeybee might sting you, she can only do it once. That's because honeybees have a barbed stinger that is attached to their abdomen and digestive tract. Consequently, when the bee pulls away after stinging, her stinger remains with the victim. She literally rips her guts out.

2. Bumblebees


These bees are a little larger than honeybees and have a black body covered with dense yellow and black hair. They can be confused with carpenter bees, but there's an easy way to tell the difference: Carpenter bees are noticeably larger than bumble bees.
Bumblebees get their name from the noise they create when they get into a flower. They make the noise by moving around inside the flower so fast that they literally sonicate the pollen off the flower and onto the hairs on their body. Like the honeybee, the bumblebees you see are female workers who groom the pollen back and into pollen baskets on their legs. They live in large colonies in nests they build in the ground in abandoned mammal holes.

3. Carpenter bees (Genus: Xylocopa)

Carpenter bees

These bees have a bad reputation. That's because they are the ones (the female workers, again) that bore into your wood and make a hole as neat and clean as if it was bored out with a power drill. The presence of sawdust on sills or stoops is an indication that you should look for a hole, which is the female's reproductive nest.
They also have the reputation of being the robber barons of the bee world, chewing into small flowers into which they can't fit, such as those on blueberries, to get to the nectar before blueberry bees visit the flower. When this happens, they aren't pollinating the flower, they are simply "stealing" the nectar without providing a natural benefit. On the flowers of other plants, however, they are excellent pollinators.

4. Mason bees (Genus: Osmia)

Mason bees

These are small, fast-flying bees that have the agility of a tiny fighter jet and have metallic colors including blue, dull green and black. They do not have pollen baskets on their legs. Instead, they carry pollen in hairs on the underside of their abdomens. They are most active in the spring and get their name from their habit of using mud to close nest cavities. In nature, they look for a hollowed-out stem or a twig.

5. Leafcutter bees (Genus: Megachile)

Leafcutter bees

These bees are very similar to Mason bees in their nesting characteristics except that they use leaves to close up their nest cavities. They are black with white hairs covering the thorax and the bottom of the abdomen, and many species have large heads with massive jaws to aid in cutting off pieces of leaves to seal their nests. Also like mason bees, they carry pollen on their abdomens and are very fast flyers.

6. Sweat bees (Various genera)

Sweat bees

This is a large group of small bees with some only a quarter of the size of a honeybee. They are also excellent pollinators and are active into October and even into November. Because of their small size, they are attracted to small flowers.

7. Hoverflies (Order Diptera, family Syrphidae)


Hoverflies, also called flower flies, are a large and important group of pollinators and the most numerous of the pollinating flies. There are more than 6,000 species, including many that mimic bees for protection.

Once you realize the difference between flies and bees you will start to see them everywhere. One key difference is that bees have four wings and flies have two. Another is that hoverflies and bees have very different eye structures. Flies, for instance, have huge eyes on either side of their head.

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