What are solitary bees?

As their name suggests, solitary bees are wild bees that do not form colonies like bumblebees and honeybees do. Instead of a queen that produces all the young, each female solitary bee has her own nest and lays her own eggs.

They often go unnoticed but the vast majority of bees in Sussex are solitary. In fact we currently know of around 220 species of solitary bee in the UK, compared to only 24 bumblebee and 1 honeybee species!

Solitary bees are really important pollinators for a huge variety of our crops, including currants, strawberries, runner beans, broad beans, tomatoes as well as many other vegetables and soft fruits.

They are hard to describe because they vary so much in size, shape and colouration. Some species resemble small honeybees, others small bumblebees, whilst still others could be mistaken for small wasps. Find out about the more common solitary bees that you might be lucky enough to see in your garden.

Posted in: Bees on 07 May 2015

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