Bee identification

You could have a hand's on encounter with a bumblebee, with the help of Gordon Simpson. He shows Janet Sumner how to identify a male bumblebee - it is safe to pick up because it has no sting. Males have thinner thighs than the females. There are 25 species of bumblebee in the UK, distinguished by their colour patterns. This is a red-tailed bumblebee carrying pollen in a basket on the hid legs. But not everything that looks like a bee is what it seems. The hoverfly is a honeybee mimic. Its wings form a bee, rather than the parallel wings of a honeybee. Hoverflies also have very hairy eyes. A docile and inactive bee, which looks like a bumblebee, turns out to be a cuckoo bee. They use bumblebee nests and their grubs steal the honey and nectar, just like cuckoos. They hardly do any work at all. You can even stroke them - the bee will raise its legs in defence but is unlikely to sting.

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