Photo: How to identify different kinds of bees

Can you spy the pollen sacs on the bumble bee? (Credit: Lindsay Coulter)

Recently, I had the privilege of attending bee school. Well, not exactly but I met bee lovers/experts—Dr. Elizabeth Elle with Simon Fraser University and Dr. Cameron Cartiere with Border Free Bees.

I learned how to tell a bee from a wasp from a fly, AND defining characteristics of different types of bees.

Here are some tricks and tips to tell bees apart:

Bumble bees

  • Striped abdomen
  • Large, fuzzy body
  • Pollen sacs on thighs
  • Cute, males even have moustaches

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Honey bee

  • Amber and black striped abdomen (versus yellow)
  • Long, narrow body
  • Pollen sacs on thighs
  • "Hairy" quality to the eyes

Hairy belly bee

  • Dark coloured abdomen and thorax
  • Round body
  • Pollen carried under belly
  • E.g., blue orchard mason bees, leaf cutter bees and resin bees

Mining bee

  • Dark abdomen and thorax
  • Pollen up entire leg not just the thigh (they wear pollen pants!)
  • They range a lot in size

How have you encouraged these types of bees to call your yard or garden home?


Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green

April 12, 2017

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