From queen bumblebees to the late-flying Ivy Bee, discover North East bees you could observe through the seasons.

From mining bees to bumblebees, the North East is home to over 100 bee species. Using the timeline below, explore the emergence of the region’s bees throughout the months.

Queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee
Feb

Queen bumblebees

The bee season begins with the emergence of queen bumblebees. Having spent up to seven months underground, their first port of call is to find food, and then a place to establish a nest.

Depending on the year, queen bumblebees can be on the wing as early as January or February. Queens of the Buff-tailed, Tree and Early Bumblebee are among the first to emerge from hibernation.

March

Hairy-footed Flower Bee

One of the first solitary bees to emerge in the year, the Hairy-footed Flower Bee is a zippy bee that typically nests in walls and soft mortar. The hairy middle legs of the males earns this bee its name.

With recent sightings from Barnard Castle, Morpeth, Warkworth and Alnwick, it is a scarcer bee to look out for, especially in Northumberland.

March

Red Mason Bee

A common occupier of garden bee hotels, the Red Mason Bee is another spring-flying solitary bee. Using mud as nesting material, the females have special facial horns to mould mud into place.

If you have a bee hotel, look out for tubes that have been plugged with mud.

March

Spring mining bees

A number of mining bees are on the wing during spring. This includes urban-dwelling mining bees such as Chocolate and Buffish Mining Bee.

With Willow in full bloom, spring is also the time of year for willow specialist bees. Both the Northern Mining Bee and Clarke’s Mining Bee depend on willow as a pollen source.

May

Worker bumblebees

Workers from nests established early in the year can be on the wing from April onwards. Typically smaller versions of the queen, workers collect nectar and pollen for the nest. Workers can be seen from spring through to autumn.

June

Leafcutter bees

Common occupiers of bee hotels, leafcutter bees are summer-flying solitary bees. As their name suggests, females cut and collect sections of leaf to use as nesting material.

Unlike most bees, leafcutter bees collect pollen on special hairs, known as a scopa, on their underside.

June

Cuckoo bumblebees

Nest usurpers, cuckoo bumblebees delay their emergence until queen bumblebees have started their nests. There are six species of cuckoo bumblebees in the UK and North East.

Cuckoo bumblebees take over nests by killing the queen and laying their own eggs inside. The workers are then fooled into rearing her offspring.

June

Fork-tailed Flower Bee

Often mistaken as a small bumblebee, the Fork-tailed Flower Bee is the summer-flying relative of the Hairy-footed Flower Bee.

Unlike other flower bees, the Fork-tailed Flower bee nests in dead wood. It is particularly fond of plants from the dead-nettle or mint family, such as woundworts, dead-nettles, and garden salvias.

June

Yellow-face bees

Easily overlooked, yellow-face bees are among our smallest solitary bees. Typically nesting in aerial cavities, yellow-face bees secrete a waterproof material to line their nests.

Named after their yellow faces, yellow-face bees can be observed on the wing throughout the summer months.

June

Furrow bees

Also known as ‘sweat bees’, furrow bees are small mining bees from the genus Lasioglossum and Halictus. While small, on closer inspection some species are metallic with a bronzy or green sheen. Most nest underground in light soils.

July

Plasterer bees

From the genus Colletes, plasterer bees are so-called as they secrete a cellophane-like substance to line their nests.

While difficult to identify to species, plasterer bees are characterised by their heart-shaped faces, ginger top and cream-striped abdomens. Davies’ Colletes Bee is most likely to be observed in gardens and urban areas, collecting pollen from plants of the daisy family.

August

Male bumblebees

In July and August, many bumblebee nests are coming to their natural end. This is marked by the production of males and new queens.

Male bumblebees are often fluffier and some species have yellow facial hair or ‘moustaches’. Kicked out the nest, their sole purpose is to find a queen to mate with.

 

September

Ivy Bee

A recent arrival to both the UK and North East, the Ivy Bee is an autumn-flying solitary, or plasterer, bee. Emerging with the flowering of Ivy, this species depends on Ivy as its pollen source.

First recorded in 2001, it has rapidly spread throughout the country and was first recorded in the region in 2019.

Moss Carder Bee

Join the North East Bee Hunt

Urban or rural, beginner or expert, we need your help to record bees across the region this spring and summer.

Your records can add to our understanding of bees in the region and inform conservation and monitoring efforts.

Taking part is easy and every record counts, wherever you live in the region. Records of all bee species are encouraged.