How to Identify a Bee, key things to look out for as there is many insects that mimic bees. Therefore a few basics are named with photo’s.
How to Identify a Bee.
There are quit a few bee species and we find ourselves noticing many more species of bees that we need to identify what they are named.
So with all my searching I decided to name some key physical characteristics, to know to see if the insect found is a bee or a wasp or a fly.
As most of them are very colorful and mimic bees, as they say that the coloring is what alarms other insects that they can protect themselves. In this way they leave the insect alone, because they can sting them to death.
How to Identify a bee and understand the bees anatomy and a description of all the working organs of the bees.
Firstly the Head.
Bees have large eyes that are to the side of the head. That resemble the “eclipse shape” when viewed from the side, but have actually 5 eyes. The other 3 eyes are very small and on top of the head, which you will not be able to see. The bee also has a visible long antennae that is in front of the head in the middle. As you can see from the below picture.
The bee has two sets of wings, that are held together with barbs. That is 4 wings all together two on each side of the thorax.
All though when the bee is resting as above you cant notice the two sets of wings.
But below you can clearly see both sets of wings.
Bees do groom, but they are more likely to be seen cleaning their backs, limbs and antennae in a kind of ‘wiping’ fashion.
Flies pull their legs forward and groom. Below is a bee fly, it mimics the bees foraging habits. But does not collect pollen.
If an insect is carrying pollen its a bee. But not all bees carry pollen such as the “cuckoo bee” therefore you cant use this for identifying a bee to an insect. A bee could also not have collected pollen yet from the flowers. Some bees carry pollen differently to other bees.
The honey bee carries pollen in its pollen baskets on its hind legs and the mason bee or solitary bees carry pollen on the hairs under their abdomen of the body.
Below a honey bee with orange pollen on the hind legs in its pollen baskets. Neatly packed for transport.
A solitary bee like the sweat bee, note the yellow orange pollen underneath the body.
Also a leaf cutter bee has pollen under abdomen.
Next is an blue orchard bee or mason bee. With pollen.
The Bee has 3 pairs of legs (6 legs) two longer hind legs that have hair and a honey bee has pollen baskets.
The front two legs are smaller and all the legs extend from the thorax.
That the middle of the body.(note the diagram photo below with yellow arrows)
Consist of the Head, Thorax and Abdomen.
The Head (orange arrows) has the large eyes and antennae. The bee has very little thinning between the head and the thorax of the body.
The wasp abdomen is thinner and longer. Does not have hairy or barb like legs. They are also longer.
See wasp picture below.
As per below picture.
Its thorax (blue arrow)normally has hairy fur on as well as the lower part of the abdomen and hind legs for certain species of bees.
The abdomen also has the sting or normally called the egg laying gland. (light orange arrow) Not all bees sting.
Below is a red mason bee.
Bees can also vary in size, depending on species. The carpenter bee is large 11/2 inches and then comes the bumble bee. A honey bee is next and a sweat bee is tiny, as well as other solitary bees. Then there is the mason bees or orchard blue and red bee, very interesting photos of how they breed.
Below photo is an example of a honey bee and a tiny sweat bee.
The color of the bees abdomen can vary to the species, and this also warns other insects that they can protect themselves by stinging.
That’s why some insects mimic bees or wasps as they also obtain food from flowers. They feel protected like the bee.
Without bees, humans – and most other animals – would go hungry. Experts estimate that between 50% and 80% of the world’s food supply is either directly or indirectly linked to honey bee pollination. From the pollination of apple trees to the seeds used to grow livestock grain, honey bees are a major link in our food chain.
Please save the bees………be vigilant of the different bees and their breeding habits. Honey bees provide honey. Other bees pollinate very well.