Identification guides and downloads


Handbook of the Bees of the British Isles (2-Volume Set). George Else and Mike Edwards (2018). A comprehensive key and accounts for the British species of bees. 775 pages in two volumes. Corrections available here - updated 31 December 2022

Field Guide to the Bees of Great Britain and Ireland. Steven J. Falk (2015). Keys and describes all the British species known by 2015.

Steven Falk's online resource for bee identification. Steven Falk is building a comprehensive photo guide to British Bees. See his insects pictures including wasps and ants here

Wild Bees of Scotland 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

Bumble bee "crib-sheets" by Steven Falk:

Distinguishing banded pattern bumblebees with red tails

Distinguishing black bodied red tails

Distinguishing Bombus vestalis and B. bohemicus

Distinguishing carder bumblebees

Distinguishing cuckoo bumblebee females

Distinguishing cuckoo bumblebees males

Distinguishing ‘midriffed’ white-tails and their dark forms

Distinguishing white-tailed bumblebees

Coelioxys identification

A visual guide for the identification of British Coelioxys bees - Rhian Rowson & Mark Pavett (2008). BWARS members Rhian Rowson and Mark Pavett have produced this photo-guide to aid the identification of British Coelioxys bees.

Nomada identification

Revised British Nomada key © Steven Falk, 03/05/2024 TEST VERSION
A revised account and key to British nomad bees (Apidae: Nomada) by Steven Falk, 2024

Sphecodes identification

Notes on identifying Sphecodes species by Steven Falk


Steven Falk's online resource for wasp identification. Steven Falk is building a comprehensive photo guide to British Wasps. See his insects pictures including bees and ants here

The British Potter and Mason Wasps - Michael Archer (1996).
BWARS President, Michael Archer has kindly made the key from his Handbook available as a free download.

Key to British genera of Bethylidae, Embolemidae and Dryinidae by Michael Archer

Key to British Chrysididae by Michael Archer (2020)

Key to British Dryinide, Embolemidae & Bethylidae by Michael Archer (2020)

Paper and Social wasps of central Europe - Libor Dvořák & Stuart Roberts (2006)
Keys in Czech and English. Lavishly illustrated. Includes all British species.

Photographs of key features used in various identification keys
Ian Tew has provided numerous very useful photographs of the key features of various wasp species

Pompilidae (spider-hunting wasps) draft key and figures by Graham Collins and also Pompilidae section of Steve Falk's Flickr site

Social wasps - key to wasps of the family Vespidae - Updated version December 2022. The Vespine key on  the BWARS website has been extensively revised for many of the male characters, most notably the males of V. rufa, V. germanica and V. vulgaris. The markings on these species are very variable and the only reliable way of separating them is by looking at the genitalia of dead specimens, in particular the shape of the central 'tongue' or adeagus.
There have been small alterations elsewhere in the text.


3 Myrmica species - Phil Attewell (2011): Part 1 and Part 2 aids to help separate Myrmica scabrinodis, sabuleti and specioides.

Stenamma worker ants - Mike Fox (2009). BWARS member, Mike Fox has produced this photographic guide to distinguishing UK Stenamma worker ants.



Eumenes coarctatus - a potter wasp.

Photo: John Walters