Beginners bees, wasps and ants

Identifying bees, wasps and ants? Try these first...

Most bees, wasps and ants (aculeate Hymenoptera, or "aculeates" for short) require considerable skill and experience to identify them. There are however a small number of bees and wasps that, with care, can be identified quite easily. On these pages you will find photos and pointers for the identification of some of the commoner distinctive species.


Online recording pages for the spring species have now been developed and will be active in early March, to coincide with the flight periods. Just click on the relevant species on this page and link directly to the introductory page.


The species selected are:

Anthophora plumipes, Andrena fulva, Andrena cineraria, Osmia bicornis, Vespa crabro


Mellinus arvensis - field digger-wasp




Philanthus triangulum - beewolf




Vespa crabro - hornet

(With online recording now available)




Dolichovespula media - median wasp





Lasius flavus - yellow meadow ant




Formica rufa - red wood ant




Myrmecina graminicola - woodlouse ant



BWARS members Mike Edwards and Jeremy Early have collaborated with Scottish Natural Heritage to produce a guide to some of the common and more readily identified bees of Scotland. The guide can be downloaded here