Beauty is in the eye of the bee-holder

Find beauty in the bees, instead of fear. There’s a lot to love once you get to know the species that are supporting our ecosystems.

Don’t sweat these

a large bee on a white flower
Carpenter bee. Brenda Loveless

Carpenter bees

  • Loud buzz and intimidating size, but harmless
  • Lives in your wooden fence and may chew on your house
  • Still pollinates your flowers and garden veggies
a fuzzy bee on a white flower
Bumblebee. Laura Perlick/USFWS


  • Similar to a carpenter bee, but bigger and fuzzier
  • Most efficient pollinator in your town and lives near the ground
  • Sweet disposition but only social in small groups
a fuzzy bee on a white flower with a big yellow center
Solitary bee. Orangeaurochs/Flickr Creative Commons

Solitary bees

  • Very chill and prefers living alone
  • Males don’t sting and females sting only when stepped on, swatted at, or threatened — so don’t do those things
a small be on a orange center of a purple flower
Left: Honeybee. Jamie Weliver/USFWS


  • Introduced to North America and avid pollinators
  • Very social, creates honey, hard worker and often hired by farmers who rent hives
  • Not stinging you is their highest priority, since they can only sting once and will die shortly after
a small insect on a small white flower
Hoverfly. Peter Pearsall/USFWS


  • Looks like a bee, flies like a bee, pollinates like a bee, not actually a bee
  • May hover around flowers or you if you smell good
  • Can’t hurt you!

Looks like a bee

a bold yellow and black striped insect
Yellowjacket. slgckgc


  • No fuzz and no fun, bold black and yellow stripes, sassy
  • Will commonly nest underground, but also in trees or shrubs
  • Persistently search for foods high in sugars, like fruits and pop
three wasps around a small hive structure on a green branch
Paper wasps. USFWS

Paper wasp

  • Builds a nest of paper-like plant material
  • Helps control agricultural pests and often brightly colored
  • May become aggressive to defend their nest, but generally docile otherwise
a red and yellow insect with wings
European hornet. Ryszard

European hornet

  • Segmented brown body black and yellow stripes, larger than a wasp
  • Can sting multiple times if threatened, but thankfully nest high above the ground and avoid conflict

Bees that need our help

a fuzzy bee on pink flower
Yellow-banded bumblebee. Sandy Gillian

Yellow-banded bumblebee

  • Pollinator of blueberries, cranberries, and potatoes
  • Able to regulate its body temperature during cold weather and can adapt to a queenless nest!
  • Struggling from habitat loss, disease, and pesticide use
a fuzzy bee on a pink flower
American bumblebee. Monica Krancevic

American bumblebee

  • Was once the most prevalent bumblebee in the southern United States, but now needs our help
  • Lives in open fields and farmlands
  • Favorite foods include clovers and sunflowers
a yellow fuzzy bee on a purple flower
Lemon cuckoo. Heather Holm

Lemon cuckoo bumblebee

  • With a tart personality to match its name, cuckoo bumblebees invades colonies of other bumblebees and takes over!
  • A lover of asters, thistles, snakeroots, blazing-stars, mountain-mints and goldenrod flowers
a round fuzzy bee on a purple flower
Rusty-patched bumblebee. Debbie Johnson

Rusty-patched bumblebee

  • Has declined 87% in the last 20 years
  • One of the first bees to emerge in early spring and one of the last to go into hibernation, and needs nectar plants the entire season!
  • Needs a wide variety of flowering plants, and prefers goldenrods, asters, coneflowers, sunflowers and turtleheads



We conserve nature in the northeast U.S. for the benefit of wildlife and the American people. Love your natural and wild places! Explore the world around you by hiking, fishing, hunting, and volunteering. More info at

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store