Wild Bee, Photo by Forest Simon on Unsplash

Many bee raisers want to learn how to identify the bees that visit their yards and gardens. But, with over 4,000 species of native bees in North America, plus the non-native species that have been introduced, it can be challenging to identify bees down to the species level. Fortunately, there are some great resources to help people learn how to identify bee species. Below are a few of our favorites.

Helpful Identification Tools

If you'd like to dive deeper into identifying the bees in your yard, here are some great resources to help you along the way.

  • Crown Bees has a great selection of books and bee identification guides to help you learn the bees in your backyard!
  • Discover Life is a free online tool to help identify species, track the impact of climate change, and participate in research projects.
  • Bug Guide is an online community of naturalists who collect photos of insects from the United States and Canada for identification and research. They also summarize findings in guide pages for each order, family, genus, and species.  
  • Exotic Bee ID, a website created through a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Utah State University (USU) can help bee enthusiasts identify non-native bees in the United States. Some exotics, such as Osmia cornifrons, have been naturalized and commonly pollinate farms and orchards. However, it is still crucial for researchers to understand their distribution and abundance. 

Exotic Bee ID is designed primarily as a screening tool for those who monitor and intercept non-native bees coming into this country, such as people working at ports of entry, state agriculture departments, and university extension services. However, it is also set up to be used by growers, hobbyists, and homeowners—that is, essentially anyone interested in identifying bees. Access to the website is free.