British bee identification guide

What are the best plants to attract bees to your garden?

The Countryfile bee guide looks at how to identify the different types of bees, best plants to grow, and making a bee house. Plus, what to do if you see a struggling bee.

Whilst many of us may be familiar with the honeybee and one or two bumblebee species, there are actually over 200 hundred species of bee found in the UK and the wider British Isles (and roughly 20,000 species in total around the world). The majority of which are species belonging to the solitary bees group, and can often be mistaken for other insects such as wasps and hornetshoverflies, and bee-flies.

Our bee guide looks at why bees are important, how to identify the three groups, which plants to grow to attract bees to your garden (and which to avoid), how to help a struggling bee, and how to make a bee house for solitary bees.

What is the role of bees?

Bees are vital in the life-cycle of a plant, due to pollination. This process is essential because it allows plants to reproduce, and many plants depend on bees or other pollinators to survive.

A bee will collect nectar and pollen from the flower of a plant, as well as some from the stamens - the male reproductive organ of the plants. When the bee visits the next flower, the pollen is transported onto the stigma, or the tip of the pistil - the female reproductive organ of the flower. This is essential to the fertilisation process of plants, food and fruits.

Bees are perhaps the well-known of the insect pollinators, but there are a range of species which can act as pollinators including butterfliesmothswaspsbeetles, and flies.

Bees are featured in our list of the key insect pollinators of spring.

How to identify common British bee species