There is no need to state the obvious when it comes to the importance of different types of bees to the delicate ecosystems found all over the world.
They contribute to the pollination of seventy-five percent of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts farmed in the United States and eighty percent of the flowering plants.
The bees on this list are only a small part of the many thousands of species of bees found around the world; nonetheless, when most people think of bees or pollinators, the first thing that comes to mind is the common honeybee.
There are approximately 20,000 distinct species. Only eight different types of bees make honey, and none of them are indigenous to the United States.
However, our country is home to 4,000 additional species of native bees. The vast majority of bees are not hostile toward people and show no interest in them at all.
They prefer to remain to themselves, going from blossom to flower and sucking the nectar out of the flowers they visit.
They are fascinated by the plants that grow in your yard and garden.
Because of this, if you encounter an aggressive bee and get stung, it is more likely that you accidentally squashed it or confused it for a wasp (like a yellowjacket).
How to Identify Bees?
Bees are most easily recognized by their distinct coloring, shapes, sizes, behaviors, and environments.
At first, you could have the impression that they are all identical in appearance and behavior. This might make things difficult.
But if you look a little more closely, you’ll notice that different kinds of bees have distinct qualities that set them apart.
For instance, some bees are larger in size, such as Wallace’s Giant Bee, which has the largest wingspan of any bee on the planet at 6.5 millimeters (2.5 inches).
Some bees are smaller in size, such as the mining bee known as Perdita minima, which is only 2 millimeters (0.04 inches) in length.
While Some bees have a coloration that is more brown or tan, while others have a coloration that ranges from pitch black to even red.
Some types of bees have hairy bodies, while others have smooth and shiny bodies.
They could have markings of white or yellow, or they could appear nothing like a bee at all by having metallic black or green bodies.
The majority of bees do not make their homes in hives because they build their nests elsewhere, such as in hollow stems and reeds, wood, or cracks in the earth.
They could use a different method to bore their holes (e.g., just one hole instead of multiple holes) or a different kind of substance to seal their nests (like leaves or chewed-up wood).
Once you get a better understanding of how diverse and fascinating these insects are, you’ll develop a more profound respect not only for honeybees but also for other kinds of bees.
Different Types of Bees
1. Honey Bees
The appearance of male and female honeybees (Apis mellifera) is distinct, making it simple to determine their gender at first glance.
Male honeybees have seven visible abdominal portions, while female honeybees only have six.
Honeybees have strangely hairy eyeballs that are large enough to be captured on camera. The honeybee male’s eyes are arranged so that they meet at the top of their heads.
Check the bee’s rear legs to see if it has any tibial spurs, which are little spikes that protrude from the leg. If there are none, this strongly indicates that it is a honeybee.
Since honeybees make their homes in wax combs, they do not require tibial spurs because they do not have to dig to get to their nests.
In addition, the honeybee’s rear legs have flat segments. They are quite expansive and completely encircle the pollen press.
And as a final step, examine the mandibles attached to your bee. Honeybees are most likely the culprit if the hives look like a spoon.
Honeybees can successfully feed their offspring thanks to the structure of their mandibles.
Bumblebee (Bombus hortorum) males are more prevalent in the late summer and fall months, although you can find female bumblebees at any time of the year.
Each gender of bumblebee has both a true and a cuckoo version of itself. In addition to having short faces, cuckoo bumblebees also have hairy hind legs and do not carry pollen baskets.
The membranes of the wings have a dark tint, and the shift in coloration occurs in the shape of a V at the very top of the tail. A few black hairs may be visible at the very end of their belly region.
Bumblebees’ tails can typically be identifiable by one of three primary colors: white, red, or uniform. Bees, known as white-tailed bees, have tails ranging from off-white to yellow.
Bees with uniform bottoms have abdomens colored consistently throughout, including their tails (sort of ginger).
Check out the banding on the abdomen of your bumblebee for additional identification information, especially if it is white-tailed.
One to three distinct golden bands may be quite thick, depending on the species.
Some bumblebees have a pigmentation called melanin, which makes them look completely black or significantly darker than other bumblebees.
3. Mason Bees
Mason bees (genus Osmia) are members of the Megachilidae family of bees. They get their name from the fact that they construct their nests out of mud or other masonry products.
These bees build their nests in tight, dark cavities and naturally occurring crevices, such as in the spaces between cracks in the stone, inside hollow stems and twigs, and occasionally in “native bee hotels” that people hang in their gardens.
They are very efficient pollinators because of their small size, agility, and speed with which they fly.
The blue orchard bee is a subspecies of the mason bee that gets its name from the remarkable pollination work it does in orchards.
When it comes to pollinating almonds, studies have revealed that approximately 400 female blue orchard bees are just as effective as 10,000 honeybees!
There are no pollen baskets to be found on the legs of Mason bees. They do it, however, by transporting pollen in the hairs covering their abdomens’ underside.
They often have metallic bodies ranging from black to dark blue to dull green to black. Some species can have a rusty or reddish coloration.
Mason bee adults are about half an inch long and have an expanded rear region that is visible when the bee is carrying a lot of pollen.
4. Leafcutter Bees
Their nesting practices are extremely similar to those of mason bees (Megachile latreille), except that they employ leaves rather than wax to seal their nest holes.
They accomplish this by removing crescent-shaped or nearly circular pieces measuring one-quarter and half an inch from the leaves of roses, lilacs, and other plants.
Note that they are incredibly precise cutters; therefore, if you see ragged edges or tears along the edges, it is not likely that leafcutter bees were responsible for the damage.
These different types of bees are mostly black but have white hairs on their thorax and the bottom of their abdomens.
The huge heads and massive jaws of many species are adaptations that help them strip leaves from their host plants.
They have incredibly swift flight and carry pollen on the abdomens of their bodies.
According to research, leafcutter bees are extraordinarily productive; around 150 bees operating in greenhouses may pollinate the same number of plants as 3,000 honeybees!
5. Southeastern Blueberry Bees
These different types of bees are within the Apidae family.
They are effective pollinators of blueberries (Habropoda laboriosa), particularly southern rabbiteye blueberries, which need to be pollinated by buzzes, as their name suggests (a behavior that few bees exhibit).
Interestingly, these bees have co-evolved alongside their native blueberries, and the bell-shaped blueberry blossoms perfectly fit their bodies.
They are about half an inch long and have hairy bodies, making them look like miniature bumblebees.
They are endemic to the southeastern region of the United States and feed on various blooms, including trumpet flowers and clover, among others.
February through April are when blueberry bees are at their busiest. They have powerful wings and typically build their nests in the ground, particularly close to blueberry bushes.
6. Squash Bees
Although they are members of the family Apidae, squash bees are from two distinct but related genera: Peponapis and Xenoglossa. Squash bees are native solitary bees.
However, their color resembles honeybees, even though they are huge and clumsy like bumblebees.
Compared to honeybees, their faces are more rounded, and their antennae are significantly longer.
Squash bees were the primary pollinators of gourds and squashes cultivated by indigenous peoples across the Americas before the arrival of honeybees in the New World by Europeans.
Honeybees were introduced to the Americas by Europeans.
Male squash bees are most active in the early morning hours after daybreak when they can be seen flitting from squash flower to squash flower in quest of mates.
The only pollen females get is from the gourd, pumpkin, and squash blooms they eat.
They are such effective pollinators of zucchini and butternuts, as well as many other species of plants belonging to the cucurbit family, that subsequent visits by honeybees have no impact on the success of those same crops.
These different types of bees do not reside in colonies but instead construct their nests in the ground.
On the other hand, male squash bees will frequently enter closed blooms to spend the night before returning to their foraging duties the following morning.
7. Hairy-footed Flower Bees
They (Anthophora plumipes) play an extremely significant role in pollination for primrose blooms, comfrey, and lungwort. They range from 1.4 centimeters to 1.6 centimeters in length.
The females of this species have a size and look that is comparable to that of bumblebees but are far smaller.
They have a black and fuzzy appearance, and the hairs on their hind legs are orange.
The faces of male hairy-footed flower bees have hair that is a light cream tint, while their bodies are a rusty brown.
Keep an eye out for orange hairs that are long and feathery on the animal’s feet and middle legs.
It is not uncommon for them to slide down chimneys, and it is known for them to conceal themselves in the crevices between bricks and the soft mortar.
In addition to this, they favor living in wooded areas, parks, grassy cliff slopes, and dirt.
You will most likely encounter these different types of bees between March and June.
As a rule, the males emerge first, as they emerge from their hibernation phase a little earlier than their counterparts females.
They have a flight pattern that is extremely rapid and erratic, and it is well-known that they are solitary bees.
Despite this, they prefer to establish their nests in huge, rowdy communities.
8. Ashy Mining Bees
Andrenidae is the family to which these particular bees belong.
They are solitary bees (Andrenidae cineraria) that are typically spotted flying around throughout the springtime.
Their black and gray color gives them a highly distinctive appearance as a species.
Honeybees and the females of this species are almost the same sizes.
They have a shining black patch on their belly region, which under some lighting conditions, can look blue.
Along with the white hairs covering their face, you can also detect two distinct stripes of light gray hair running from the top of their thorax to the bottom.
Compared to females, males are smaller and have less distinct markings that are clearly identifiable.
On the other hand, the lighter-colored hairs on the sides of their thorax regions are more noticeable.
The months of March through June are the busiest time of year for ashy mining bees.
They are most commonly in bright and open areas that are in close proximity to sandy soil types.
The queen bees construct their nests by burrowing into the bare dirt where they live. Buttercups, blackthorn, hawthorn, and fruit trees are some of their favorite things to eat.
9. Tawny Mining Bees
These different types of bees belong to the Andrenidae family. They are most frequently in the springtime, during March and May.
Female tawny mining bees (Andrenidae fulva) are similar in size to males. On their thoraxes, they feature dense hair that is a reddish-orange color.
The abdomen areas have long, dense hair that is lighter orange. Female tawny mining bees have completely black undersides, faces, and legs. Their legs are also black.
The male tawny mining bees are noticeably more slender and diminutive than their female counterparts. They have a shorter coat of hair that is darker and browner. Male tawny mining bees have jaws that stick out of their heads.
The length of the males is between 8 and 10 millimeters, while the length of the females ranges between 10 and 12 millimeters.
These particular bees can survive in a wide variety of environments. They inhabit gardens and parks with vegetation kept short and under control.
Buttercups, dandelions, maple, willow, hawthorn, and fruit trees are among the plants they consume for food.
After the males have mated and passed away, the females start building their nests late in the spring.
They are a solitary species because each nest contains only one adult female bee.
10. Ivy Bees
Because of the technique in which they line their nests, ivy bees (Colletes hederae) are classified as a form of plasterer bee and a cellophane bee. They are members of the Colletidae family.
Honeybees are comparable in size to these insects, but their thorax sections are ginger colored. This region on the bodies of female bees has an extremely dense layer of hair.
Broad bands of color, changing between black and a yellowish-orange hue, can be seen in the abdomen area.
Males are often smaller than females but otherwise appear identical. Compared to other species of plasterer bees, it might be difficult to tell them apart.
The most straightforward approach to differentiate between the two is to think about the season in which you first spotted the bee.
Late in the year is when the ivy bee is most active, with males emerging in late August and females in late September.
They are frequently observed in urban settings, as well as in farmlands, coastal areas, and heaths.
They have a particular fondness for ivy blooms and other late-blooming species.
Because the males are in such fierce competition with the females, they frequently get themselves tangled up in a mating ball.
All male bees will make a concerted effort to mate with a single available female during this activity.
11. Yellow-faced Bees
These different types of bees (Hylaeus confucius) are members of the Colletidae family. More than 130 species of the genus Hylaeus are in the United States.
Yellow-faced bees look a lot like little black wasps. They have markings of white or yellow on their legs, faces, and thorax regions, and their bodies are quite slender.
Because they lack scopa, these bees have a distinct look that sets them apart from other species (extra limbs to carry pollen around).
Instead, these bees store their food in specialized compartments on their stomachs called crops. These different types of bees are social insects and live in colonies.
This solitary bee prefers constructing its nests in preexisting tunnels whenever possible.
When the female returns to her nest, the contents of her crop are regurgitated, and she deposits a small bit of the material along with each egg.
When the eggs hatch, the young will consume this food as their primary source of nutrition.
Be on the lookout for yellow-faced bees on carrot plants, Golden Alexanders, swamp milkweed, and common boneset between May and September.
These are the places where they are most likely to be found.
12. Furrow Bees
Sweat bees and furrow bees (Halictus ligatus) are both common names for the same species.
They are drawn to humans’ sweat and will wander around calmly on your arm if given the opportunity.
These different types of bees are on the low end of the size spectrum and tend to be quite docile.
Because they are a species that lives underground, they create their nests by burrowing into the ground. They favor living in places that are devoid of any flora.
Because they come in such a wide variety of hues, the bees might sometimes be difficult to recognize.
Their colors can range from entirely black to gold to metallic greens and blues, and they can even be gray or purple at times.
The posterior ends of the abdominal areas feature lighter bands of hair than the rest of the region.
The strong heads of female furrow bees, which each include a genal tooth, are a distinguishing trait of this species (a small spine in the cheek area behind the eye).
13. Box-headed Blood Bees
They (Sphecodes monilicornis) can be distinguished from other bees by the blood-red coloration of the abdomen sections of their bodies, which range in size from medium to enormous. In common parlance, people refer to them as “blood bees.”
This species is known to be a cleptoparasitic parasite on other species of bees, particularly those belonging to the genera Halictus, Andrena, and Lasioglossum.
Because of this, they do not collect pollen for themselves because they rely on the resources provided by other bees to feed their offspring (though they do feed on nectar).
Female bees will go inside the nests of other bee species and eliminate any grubs or eggs they find within.
They proceed to lay their eggs in the nest to replace the ones they have killed, and then they exit the nest while simultaneously re-sealing it.
Males are noticeably smaller than females, and the amount of red at the top of their abdomen is far less.
Compared to other species of blood bees, this particular type has an antennal area that is slightly flatter than the others.
The heads of the females look like a box, and they have fine hairs on the backs of their legs. They also have bodies that are not particularly thick.
They have two primary eyes and three ocelli in addition to that (primitive eyes found on the top of the head between the two main eyes).
Because they use the nests of other species of furrow bees, such as orange-legged furrow bees, common furrow bees, flowered furrow bees, and sharp-collared furrow bees, as hosts, you can find them near these other species.
14. Carpenter Bees
The Megachilidae family includes all bees known as carpenter bees (Xylocopa virginica).
They are the kind of bee that lives alone and are the largest native bees in the United States.
They flourish in various environments, including tropical and subtropical climates, and are across the eastern region of the United States and Canada.
The abdomens of these different types of bees are completely hairless and black.
Males may occasionally have patches of short hair on their abdomens, and their faces may be yellow or white in color.
Additionally, they could have a white dot on the top of their skulls. The faces of female carpenter bees, on the other hand, are black.
They can be anywhere from 0.5 to 1 inch long and are frequently confused with bumblebees due to their size.
Although most carpenter bees are black in appearance, a few species can be green or even a purplish color.
Because of their unique nesting behavior, which involves drilling very small holes into wood, they earned their name. Their nests are very close to being perfectly spherical.
Carpenter bees are beneficial to the environment because they pollinate flowers and plants, but they may be a nuisance because of the damage they inflict on the wooden surfaces found in homes and yards.
15. Wool Carder Bees
They acquire their name “carder” from the habit of scraping hair off of fuzzy leaves such as lamb’s ears and mullein, which gives them their distinctive appearance.
This particular variety of bees (Anthidium maculosum) is easily identifiable by the pattern that runs along the sides of its abdomen region, which consists of yellow spots.
In addition, while most bees transport pollen on their hind legs, carder bees are exceptional because they transport pollen on their abdomens rather than their rear legs.
It is unusual for bees to have males who are physically larger than females, but that is the case with honeybees.
It is possible to make out prominent spikes at the extremities of the abdomen region on males (where a sting would typically be, though males in this species lack stings).
The head, thorax, and abdomen region are all coated in hair that is quite light and has a yellowish-gray cast to it.
Females often have less body hair than their male counterparts. In addition, instead of having spikes on their abdomen, they have stings.
They spend most of their time traveling from plant to plant in search of wool fibers, which they then return to their nests.
These different types of bees are prevalent in areas with woods, wetlands, riverbanks, and cliffs.
They prefer to create their nests in preexisting cavities, such as those found in decaying wood or hollow stems.
16. Pantaloon Bees
Take a peek at the females if you are curious about the origin of the name “bee,” derived from the word “pants.
They give the impression that they are wearing pantaloons (Dasypoda hirtipes) due to the huge orange pollen brushes on their hind legs.
These different types of bees range in size from medium to giant, and their primary coloration is a warm golden brown.
These bees have bands that are a golden brown color and a dark black color on their abdomen.
The males have longer, golden hairs than the females, and their banding is very similar to that of the females.
They have more hair on their rear legs, but unlike the females, they do not have “pantaloons” on their lower legs.
The hue of the males can change to a tint similar to silver when exposed to the sun.
Because they enjoy the sandy soil, pantaloon bees enjoy staying in heaths and areas close to the coast.
As the females emerge from their burrows, the pantaloons assist in the process of digging up sand.
This implies that their nests have a soil heap arranged in the form of a fan, which distinguishes them from the nests of other mining bees.
18. Africanized Bees
It is common to refer to Africanized Bees (Apis mellifera scutellata Lepeletier) as “killing bees.”
When they escaped from a laboratory in South America, People bred them with regular honey bees to create a new cross-breed.
These different types of bees are notoriously known for possessing a temper that can get nasty at times.
They take over places formerly inhabited by honey bees and are likely to attack anything or anyone that gets too close to them.
They are more likely to attack at random and are deadly.
However, they are significantly smaller than honey bees and not as harmful as one might assume they would be. And then it’s possible that you also own a bee suit.