What’s the difference: Solitary Bee vs. Honey Bee

I found this great free downloadable poster about the difference between solitary bees and honey bees. It’s much clearer than anything I could write on the subject, so here it is! You can get your own for free right here.

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There were a few facts I was very surprised by on this poster. How about you? For example, that 90% of worldwide bee species are solitary. The honey bee sure gets all the attention!

I’ve been writing a bit about mason bees lately, as I’m getting ready for my first little shipment. But mason bees are not the only solitary bee. There are over 200 species in the UK and over 4000 species of native bees in North America. Some of their names tell a bit about how they form their nests: leaf cutter bees, digger bees, plasterer bees, bumble bee and carpenter bees are just a few.

Raising mason bees is something that is garnering more awareness lately. Many people are learning about the crisis with honey bees and pollination and wanting to get involved in helpful ways. Starting a beehive with honey bees is quite expensive and is much more of a demanding and potentially challenging project, depending on a number of factors. You do have the obvious benefit of honey if all goes well. However, if you would like a much easier project that can greatly help with very local pollination in your immediate area, raising mason or other solitary bees is a great way to start.

Solitary bees are incredibly efficient pollinators and don’t travel nearly as far as honey bees. This makes them perfect for backyard gardens, for those with kids who want to get involved and for those looking for an easier project than keeping honey bees.

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4 thoughts on “What’s the difference: Solitary Bee vs. Honey Bee

  1. Very interesting and informative. I never knew that there is two different kinds of bees. My granddad used to have them, and now by looking at the photos i can see it was ‘The Honey Bee’…:)

  2. Hi Sarah,

    A lovely post. I had to read twice the statement that 90% of bees are solitary. I thought they all lived in hives. I also wasn’t aware that there was a threat or shortage of bees in America. We are surrounded by them here in Lunigiana in Italy. Like Parmesan Cheese from Parma the chestnut honey (miele di castagna) is protected with the DOP stamp. So if you want some of our bees let me know!

    1. Hi Brendan,
      Thank you for your comments! I had to read that statement twice as well! I think some parts of Europe have experienced the same issues with honey bees that we have, but your governments have been much quicker to act on behalf of bees (and people). I would love to try some of your miele di castagna!

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