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About bees

Garden bee, Bombus hortorum

Bees are a group of insects that includes the honey bee, bumblebees, solitary bees, mining bees, masonry bees and cleptoparasitic bees.

Along with wasps and ants, bees form the group called Hymenoptera. The most familiar to us are the single species of honey bee and the many species of bumblebee which visit our gardens. These are all species that live socially, within the same nest. There is an even larger number of bee species that lead a solitary life and these are called solitary bees, mining bees or masonry bees.

Bees play a vital role pollinating flowering plants including fruits and vegetables. Only one species, the honey bee, Apis melifera, produces honey as we know and love it.

Number of UK species: about 260

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Is it a bee?

Bombylius major, the bee fly

It has the face of a mosquito but the body of a bee, but this is no member of the Hymenoptera.

What are bee flies?

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