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23 June 2010 / Liz Johns

Party in the Hive? No Thanks, I’m a Solitary Bee

A solitary person

I am, by nature, a solitary person.I take little pleasure in mingling at parties and in having to make small talk. Any more than six people in a social group and I instinctively withdraw. I avoid crowds wherever possible and will not be found on the commuter train to Wellington without a book to disappear into or an ipod to block out the surrounding chatter. Anti-social? Perhaps. But I prefer to call it solitary. As solitary as a bee. What? Surely bees are one of the most social and communal creatures around? Some are yes, but not all. I have great pleasure in introducing the Solitary Bee.

A solitary bee

These bees collect pollen, but do not make honey. And instead of living in hives, they make an individual nest for each egg laid. These nests can be found in holes in wood, tunnels in the ground, crumbling mortar, and other hidey-holes. Solitary bees are harmless and do not sting. Also, they will refuse invitations to any social gatherings of more than six bees.

I’m pretty sure that solitary bees nest in the wooden walls of our house. I’ve noticed in the summer a strange insect – a cross between a wasp and a bee – sneaking in between the wooden cladding and buzzing, then leaving at the end of the summer.

Name that bee

Solitary bees have great names: Mason bees, Leafcutters, Mining bees, White faced bees, Carder bees, Cuckoo bees, to name but a few.

Are solitary bees uncommon?

No, the opposite in fact. There are more than 20,000 known species of bee in the world, by far the greatest portion (90%) of these are solitary.

We love solitary bees

Make them feel at home by building houses for them, just like Sainsbury’s in the UK that has set up ‘rooftop hotels‘ to encourage solitary bees.

P. S.

Click on the top image to see more of John Kimbler’s fantastic photographs. They’re outstanding.



Leave a Comment
  1. Mark / Jun 23 2010 1:23 am

    Hello Liz. I was just checking my post in the category Nature and noticed a familiar looking bee. John’s (Dalantech) bees have a signature appearance. He does them well. I wonder why you don’t make the pic a link to his stuff since he is letting you use it. It’s the common practise to acknowledge in this way.

    I enjoyed your post. It’s not easy being solitary in a herdal society.

    The best …


    • Liz Johns / Jun 23 2010 8:42 am

      Hi. Yes that’s a good idea to make the pic a link. I did mention John’s website (text displayed when you mouse hover over the pic), but a direct link would be better.

      Thanks for the suggestion


  2. contoveros / Jun 23 2010 4:46 am

    Cuckoo Bee.

    I like the sound of ’em. Make me feel right at home. With no more than five of them at a time.

    I’ve been attending a group called “Highly Sensitive Persons,” (HSPs) and find many feel the same way. We actually enjoy silence.

    Can you get over that?

    We’re comfortable in coming together and letting silence be part of who we are without having to come up with some chatter to make someone feel better. We like to focus on more meaty issues and provide the shoulder to cry on, the one others turn to talk to, the quiet one that remains loyal almost to a fault.

    I’m an HSP and feel comfortable around bees.

    There, I finally said it. Came out of the closet and into wooden walls around the house. I am free at last!

    All kidding aside, I like it here at you site. Hope to return and stay “busy” reading more later.

    michael j
    Conshohocken, PA USA


    • Liz Johns / Jun 23 2010 9:56 am

      I like the sound of your Highly Sensitive Persons group. Maybe you can discuss the solitary bees at your next meeting. 🙂 That’ll cause a buzz.


  3. Olivia / Jul 2 2010 7:31 am

    Dear Liz,

    Thats yet another beautiful one.. I could so much identify with this one.. I too LOVE my solitude; if not anything else.. and often misunderstood..
    I am gregarious but only when have to..!!

    Nice to read that I am not the only solitary be(e)ing around..



  4. alienhippy / Jul 2 2010 6:42 pm

    Thank you for your post I really enjoyed reading it, I didn’t know there were solitary Bees.I am also a person who enjoys solitude. I have learned, over the years, to act socially but also find it hard when there is a group. I find a lot of the time I am misunderstood, I also get hurt a lot as I lack confidence. I find that painting, poetry and my pets are the stable environment I need to get me through. Thanks again for your post. x


    • Liz Johns / Jul 3 2010 12:10 am

      Me too – I had to ‘learn how to act socially’. Kind of funny really. But it’s nice to hear I’m not alone. Thanks for your comment.


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