British Beekeepers Association


British Beekeepers Association

Other Bees

There are about 30 types of bumblebee and solitary bees in the UK that are also hardworking pollinators, but they live very differently to the honey bee.

Bumblebee nests are in much smaller cavities because the colony is smaller and they need more insulation, as the queen bee has to start alone in cold weather without workers to help maintain the temperature. Queen bumblebees look for places that already have bedding material, such as old mouse nests, in the ground or under sheds or, in compost heaps made of fibrous plant material. They sometimes use old bird's nesting boxes.

Solitary bees make holes in the ground or use existing tubes like hollow stems of dead plants or holes drilled by wood-boring insects. Each individual female bee collects nectar and pollen, which she makes into a patty and places at the bottom of the tube, she then lays an egg and covers it with a lid of mud or other natural material. On top of this, she puts another food patty, lays another egg and so on. The eggs soon hatch; the larvae feed on the food provided and then pupate. The new adults form in early autumn but remain in the cocoon until the next spring. The prime requisite for this habitat is that the area is not disturbed and does not become waterlogged. Banks of earth, chalk, well-drained lawns and cracks between bricks are ideal habitats.