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Bees visit flowers to collect nectar and pollen, which they use as food for themselves and the larvae in their hives or nests. By moving from flower to flower, they are vital pollinators of many garden and wild flowers. Insect pollination is essential for the cropping of most fruits and some vegetables.
Bees are insects in the order Hymenoptera. There are many different species in Britain and they can generally be divided into three groups.
This is a social bee that lives in colonies of up to 60,000 and is the insect that produces honey.
There have been about 26 species recorded in Britain, but some are now extinct or have a very restricted distribution. At peak strength in mid-summer, a bumblebee nest will have no more than 100-200 bees.
There are about 260 species of solitary bee in Britain.
The best ways to encourage bees of all type into you garden is by providing nectar and pollen rich flowers throughout the year and encouraging them to nest in your garden.
Our lists of RHS Perfect for Pollinators can be used to extend and improve the range of plants offering nectar and pollen in your garden.
Check out our "Helping our bees" video and blog.
Getting stung by bees in your garden is unlikely, as long as you treat bees with respect.
All female bees have stings, but solitary bees are not at all aggressive and only using their stings in self-defence if roughly handled.
Similarly bumblebees and honeybees are unlikely to sting while they are going about their business of collecting nectar and pollen if they are left alone. Avoid disturbing bumblebee nests or standing too close to a bee hive unless you are wearing a beekeeper’s suit.
Bats: encouraging into your gardenBees Needs: Defra initiativeBirds: encouraging into your gardenBumblebee Conservation TrustButterflies: encouraging into your gardenHelping our bees video and blogMoths: encouraging into your gardenMake a bee hotelNational Pollinator StrategyPollinators: decline in numbersRHS Perfect for Pollinator plant listsRHS Plants for Bugs research: pollinator findings The British Beekeepers' associationWasps (social) and hornetsWild About Gardens
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Join the RHS today and get 12 months for the price of 9