Natural Enemies Of Bees

Updated: 3 February 2021

Bees may be attacked in various ways at various points in their life cycles, sometimes entering a nest and attacking the larvae, whilst others may feed on or attack the body of the bee.  Indeed, bees have a diverse range of predators, parasites, and parasitoids - some only attack particular species, whilst others will target more than one species.

Parasites And Natural Enemies Of Bees

Here is a list of various links to information on this website containing information covering some of the natural parasites and enemies of bees.

Conopid Flies

Known parasitoids of bumble bees, honey bees and large orchid bees.  Read about Conopid flies.

Nematodes (Sphaerularia bombi)

Like Conopid flies, this parasite causes infected bees to dig into the ground.  Read about this parasitoid.

Varroa Mite

The Varroa mite is associated only with honey bees.

Pollen Mites

Scroll down my page about mason bees to read about pollen mites attacking a mason bee host.

Nomad Bees

nomad bee leaving a ground nest

Other bee species can also be parasites.  Nomad bees are cleptoparasites, primarily of solitary bee species.  They resemble small wasps.

Cuckoo Bumble Bees

There are a number of species of cuckoo bumble bee, none of which have pollen baskets.  They rely on their target host workers to feed and help rear their own offspring.

Bee Fly

Bee fly, showing wing markings, extended tongue and beady eyes at the front of the head.The bee fly is a cleptoparasite that can sometimes be mistaken for a bee.

On first siting, the bee fly can sometimes be mistaken for a bumble bee or solitary bee species, but is actually a cleptoparasite.

Wasps and Hornets

Wasps and hornets may take small bees and larvae to feed their own offspring, as well as raid nectar stores.  You'll find information about the Asian hornet

Spiders

I get many emails asking me about how to remove a bee from a spider web.  It's controversial, but I provide advice rescuing bees trapped in spider webs.

However, not all spiders trap bees in the same way.  One such example is the candy-striped spider pictures below.

Honey bee trapped by a candy striped spider in a pink rose flower.  The honey bee has been wrapped in webbing, and the pale coloured spider perches close byHoney bee trapped by a candy striped spider in a pink rose flower

Racoons

Read this wonderful blog from a visitor about how she protected a wild bumble bee nest from hungry racoons!

Bird Predation

If you find headless bees, or bees with part of the body missing, predation by birds may be the reason.  Read more about bumble bees with missing heads.


Phoretic Mites

Phoretic mites are often seen attached to the thorax (upper body) of bumble bees.  They are usually commensal only (living alongside), but may also become vectors of diseases if an infestation occurs.

More articles about bees

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