Types of Bees and What They Look Like
We are all familiar with bees and encounter them regularly. But you may not be aware of the different types of bees out there.
Among all of the types of bees in the world, the honey bee is probably the most famous. However, you may be surprised to know that more than 20,000 different species of bees exist in the world. Each has its’ own characteristics and appearance. Here we will briefly discuss a few known types of bees and their traits.
First, and the most famous of all types of bees, is Apismellifera or honey bee as its’ most commonly known. Most famous are their innumerable benefits for the natural habitat. They produce honey for us and are specialist pollinators who are behind pollination of millions of plants, flowers and agricultural crops. Also, they play a major role in the continuous supply of our food.
Estimates suggest 50 – 80% of our global food supply relies on honeybees directly and indirectly.
Honeybees live in colonies which can survive for several years. During the winter months, the colony members huddle together to keep themselves warm. They gain energy by feeding upon the honey they collected during summer. Honeybees construct their hives in trees, chimneys, attics, and any corner they find suitable for their nest.
They rarely sting because their barbed stinger gets stuck in the victim’s body, and tears off when the bee pulls away after stinging, resulting in the death of the honeybee.
Honeybees have a golden yellow colored body that bears brown stripes; their oval-shaped body can be as big as ½ inches. Their main purpose is to help in pollination and honey production.
German Black Bees
The German Black Bee, or the bitterly known European Dark Bee, got its’ name because of its dark body color, and geographical home from Western Russia to Northern Europe. Their body bears a yellow straw like pattern with thick black bands. German Black Bees belong to a species of Honeybee, but they’re bigger and have very short tongues.
As they belong to the honeybees species they collect nectar, help in pollination, and produce honey. They save honey in their hives, and use it as their winter food. They usually build nests in crevices of trees, but if they invade indoors they can build their nests in chimneys, attics, and roof eaves.
Carpenter bees or wood bees are notorious for their harmful wood-eating habit. These solitary bees drill sharp, neat, and clean holes in the wood. They can be extremely damaging for wooden structures if left unchecked.
Female carpenter bees drill their nests in the wooden structures where they lay eggs and nurture their offsprings. These nest tunnels can be as long as ten feet. Their body is oval-shaped and is almost 1-inch long.
Carpenter Bees generally don’t sting humans, but if provoked they can sting multiple times because their stinger is not barbed.
Besides wood, they also thrive upon pollen and are proficient pollinators. Just like honeybees and bumblebees, they have pollen baskets on their legs.
Also, they are infamous for being the robber barons in the bee community because during their hunt for nectar they sometimes chew away small flowers like blueberries in which their large bodies don’t fit. It’s counted as stealing the nectar which was for other bees without providing any natural benefit in form of pollination.
Bumblebees or as they’re casually referred to as “Big Bees” have big wide bodies that have black and yellow colored hair bands. These are social bees that live in large colonies where worker bees must collect plant nectar, and pollen and feed other colony members and larvae. Bumblebees are very aggressive and can sting multiple times because they don’t have barbed stingers.
A bumblebees sting is extremely painful which results in itching, redness, and swelling which will take days to subside.
Bumblebees are expert pollinators and can pollinate plants, flowers, and agricultural crops. They have been given this name because of the distinct noise they make when they get into a flower to collect the pollen. They make the sound while swiftly moving around and inside the flower. This sound energy causes sonication and agitates the pollen in flowers which consequently sticks to the hairy skin of the bumblebees.
Sweat bees have been given such name because they are attracted towards human sweat. They might be irritating to humans, but it is the sweat which attracts them the most. Their short tongues aid them to lick the sweat on the human body.
They belong to the largest group of small bees having more than 1000 species. These docile bees are quite small in size, therefore go unnoticed.Sweat bees besides getting attracted towards human sweat prefer to collect pollen from flowers, and feast upon them. They aren’t picky about flowers to feed upon and take in pollen from whichever flower they come across.
Their complex and developed digestive and detox systems help them to properly digest multiple grains that they take in from a variety of flowers. These are ground bees and live in individual cells in the soil.
Digger bees are from one of the biggest types of bees, and they alone have more than 700 species. As the name refers, they dig their nests into the flat and sandy ground. They have 3cm long oval shaped bodies with pale yellow and black bands on their body.
Digger bees are solitary bees who love to live alone, but in certain circumstances, they don’t shy away from nesting in large aggregations.
They aren’t very specific about the flower nectar they’d intake and drink the nectar of any flower they come across. Moreover, they also feed their young ones with the pollen and nectar. Mostly digger bees’ species aren’t capable of pollinating except a few including Anthophora Urbana and likewise.
These types of bees get their name because they live in close proximity to the blueberry plants, nest in the ground near them, and develop with their favorite plants. Bodies of the blueberry bees have a distinct structure which is ideal to fit in the bell-shaped flowers of the blueberry plants.Like other bees, they are also specialist pollinators. But besides pollinating their native blueberry plants, they can pollinate other plants as well. They are of the same size as a normal honey bee and have body hairs like carpenter bees.***
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