Can anyone help identify this UK bee? The picture was taken in June 2016.

Doesn't have to be exact, really just want to know if it's a honey bee or a solitary bee.

enter image description here

enter image description here Thanks.

  • $\begingroup$ When was the photo taken (time of year)? $\endgroup$ Jun 9, 2016 at 9:55
  • $\begingroup$ @fileunderwater This week $\endgroup$
    – sjc
    Jun 9, 2016 at 11:05
  • $\begingroup$ It's useful info since species and/or sexes (males) can sometimes be eliminated based on flight time. Either way, its not a honey bee but a solitary bee. They have an orange band across the abdomen and they have a pollen basket on their hind tibia (scopa). $\endgroup$ Jun 9, 2016 at 11:23
  • $\begingroup$ And I'm in the North East, if that helps. $\endgroup$
    – sjc
    Jun 9, 2016 at 12:33
  • $\begingroup$ BTW, if you'd use facebook the UK Bees, Wasps and Ants group by BWARS( bees wasps and ants recording society) is focussed on questions like this and holds many experts. $\endgroup$
    – Samuel DR
    Aug 13, 2018 at 11:18

2 Answers 2


It is indeed not a honey bee, but I don't think it belonges to the genus Colletes. They have a striped, not hairy body. The bee shown seems to have stripes but these are hair bands. I think this is a Mason bee, Osmia rufa (=bicornis). Osmia rufa is one of the most common bees in Northwestern Europe.

Osmia rufa uses holes to lay eggs with some pollen and then closes the hole, usually with clay or loam, hence the name Mason bee. It is probably looking for nesting space. But they live solitary so every nest will give only a handfull of bees next year. They are completely harmless, will not defend their nest. I have them in my garden a lot. Don't worry but enjoy them!


I am sure it’s not a honey bee – the eyes are different. It could be a solitary bee of the genus Colletes. According to Wikipedia, their nests

... are lined with a cellophane-like plastic secretion, a true polyester, earning them the nickname polyester bees.
  • $\begingroup$ +1 for introducing me to 'polyester bees' - how have I never heard of these before? $\endgroup$
    – arboviral
    Jun 9, 2016 at 11:11
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. There seems to be a few of them going into my walls. Any idea if it's something I should be worried about? $\endgroup$
    – sjc
    Jun 9, 2016 at 12:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You are right this is not a honey bee, but I doubt it to be a Colletes. It lacks the stripes at the abdomen and the abdomen is hairy. I think is is Osmia rufa, see my answer for details. $\endgroup$
    – RHA
    Jun 13, 2016 at 9:34

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