Bees are insects. Together with ants and wasps they belong in the insect group Hymenoptera. You may be surprised that there are over 20,000 known species of bees in the world. Bees in East Africa include carpenter bees, Amegilla bees, stingless bees, longhorn bees, and honeybees.
These bees vary from each other physically—being of different sizes and shapes, and in their behaviour. Some wild bees nest in tree hollows, others build their nests underground; some will visit a variety of flowers to feed, others specialise, and feed from only one, or two families of flowers; many of these bees are active most of the day, while others may only be active in the early morning, or evening.
Most wild bees are solitary, though some like honeybees and stingless bees are social. Wild bees mostly collect pollen and nectar from flowers but there are those that also collect oils, and other substances from flowers.
Other bee families commonly found in East Africa are the leafcutter bees, which use leaves to line their nests, and the halictid bees, which is a large, diverse family of bees.
Wild bees pollinate about two- thirds of the vegetables and fruits grown in East Africa, and are one of the most important groups of pollinators for all flowering plants in the world.
Long-faced bee (Thrincostoma sp.) resting on a leaf at the edge of Kakamega Forest. Most wild bees are solitary and females forage and provision nests on their own.
Bees are the most diverse group of insect pollinators.
TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT An Amegilla bee approaches some Cleome flowers, small carpenter bee (Ceratina sp.) on legume. BOTTOM Amegilla on Leucas sp
Top left and right Amegilla spp. on Leucas.Bottom Halictid bee on cultivated basil.