What bee did I see?
There are lots of different types of bee in the UK – around 250 species! There are 24 species of bumblebees, around 225 species of solitary bee and just a single honeybee species. Bumblebees look quite different from honeybees and solitary bees. The most reliable difference is that bumblebees are usually larger, and are always covered with dense hair. You can check if you have a bumblebee by comparing the images above, but remember that not all bumblebee species have the same colours of hair or markings.
It was definitely a bumblebee – now what species was it?
You can use the online guides on the following pages to help you identify the bumblebee you have seen. You can also print out our quick guide to the common species of bumblebee by clicking here, or you can purchase our full ID guide for all 24 species by clicking here.
Like most insects, the bumblebee body can be broken into three main segments: the head, thorax and abdomen. Their locations are shown on the diagram below, but it is not essential to know all of these before beginning bumblebee identification.
Click here to begin identifying your bumblebees.
“Bumblebees are one of the most endearing insect visitors to any garden. Their furry, colourful bodies and clumsy flight always raise a smile, but they also do an essential job. Without their pollination services many flowers would produce no seeds, and fruit and vegetable yields would suffer.”