The Honey Bee (Family: Apidae)
As with many types of bees, honey bees have been experiencing problems, i.e. Colony Collapse Disorder or the 'missing bees' phenomenon. Honey bees play an important role, along with beekeepers, in conservation. Learn more here. Honey bees are also used extensively in crop pollination too, and along with other bees, they help to put food on our plates.
The Bumblebee (Family: Apidae)
Bumblebees are also excellent pollinators of all kinds of flowers, and are a welcome and familiar site in gardens. Their efficiency as pollinators is partially down to their furry body shape, but also because they have the ability to 'buzz pollinate'. To read more about bumblebees generally, click here.
Leafcutter and Mason bees (Family: Megachilidae)
However, some solitary bees in one sense, do live in a simple form of society (or social group) in that a few individual bees may nest close to each other, and in some cases, even share nest guarding and foraging duties! Mason bees like to make nests in crevices, sometimes in old mortar, where as leaf cutter bees like hollow stems and ready made holes in wood.
Digger Bees and Carpenter Bees (Family: Apidae)
Carpenter bees vary. Some species in the USA, for example, may have a ginger brown, hairy body, or have predominantly black shiny bodies. This picture (left), is of a carpenter bee species that is found in Italy and some other southern European countries. It's called a 'Violet Carpenter Bee' - Xylocopa violacea. It likes to nest in old wood. Recently, it has been spotted in the UK, but is a very recent arrival. To learn more about these kinds of bees, click here.
Mining Bees (Family: Andrenidae)
From the name, you probably guessed that mining bees excavate tunnels and cells under-ground. If you're lucky, you may see evidence of them in your garden: little mounds of earth in lawns, borders, or even in pots that look a bit like worm casts. In general, they seem to prefer sandy soil. They will not cause any damage, and indeed, mining bees should be welcomed in the garden, as again, they are not only enchanting little creatures, they are also valuable pollinators of plants and flowers. Pictured here is the Tawny Mining Bee – Andrena frigidai, a species found in Northern America.