How to draw a bee - simple semi-realistic style

Learn how to draw a bee. An easier-than-it-looks step by step tutorial to turn simple shapes into a great-looking semi-realistic bee, with a bonus biology lesson.

In this tutorial, we will learn how to draw a bee. This is a much more realistic drawing than the simple cartoon version in our bumblebee tutorial. The main trick to making this drawing look so good is varying the line thickness for different parts of the drawing.

The actual drawing is much easier than it looks. You will turn simple shapes into a great-looking bee step by step. And while you are learning how to draw a bee, there is also a bonus biology lesson in learning the names of all the bee's body parts.

 

Let's start drawing!

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How to draw a bee: base sketch step by step

Step 1: Sketch the head and thorax

Sketch the head and thorax

Even a semi-realistic bee drawing starts with just a few simple shapes. Draw a small, slightly tilted oval for the head. Then add a circle next to it - this will be the thorax - the middle part of the bee's body that holds legs and wings.

Step 2: Sketch the abdomen

Sketch the abdomen

The next part of the bee's body is called the abdomen - that is the belly part that holds the heart and stomach. Here it is bent and looks a bit like a peanut. Draw the upper arc first. Then draw the lower fold in the belly - two open "V" arcs.

Step 3: Sketch the bee's wings

Sketch the bee's wings

It is time to give our bee some wings. Start with the front wing. Mark the "shoulder" with a little circle. Then draw a long swooping arc for the upper wing edge. Add another smooth line for the lower edge - this one has a slight "S" curve, with the wing starting narrow then widening out. Close the shape with another short curved line.

The rear wing is partially hidden behind the bee's body. We can draw it with just two swooping arcs widening out, again closed at the end with a short angled curve.

Step 4: Add body details

Add body details

Let's add a few details before we dive into drawing the bee's legs. Draw another slightly smaller oval inside the head - this will be the bee's large compound eye.

Then draw a simple curved triangle, similar to bird's beak - this is a simplified outline of the bee's mouth, called "mandibles".

Next, split the abdomen with five curved lines to mark the black and yellow stripes on the bee's body.

Finally, sketch an outline of the flower the bee will be sitting on. This will help us place the bee's legs next.

Step 5: Sketch the middle leg

Sketch the middle leg

Let's start drawing the bee's legs. A bee has six legs, all attached to the thorax. As we are drawing the bee from a side view, for simplicity's sake we will only draw the three legs we can see in front of the body.

We start with the middle leg - we will build it from four parts. Draw the first part at the bottom of the body circle as a flat lying closed "U" shape. Then add the next part pointing down as another upside-down "U". The third part goes down again, this time narrowing at the bottom - a normal "U", or bent "V". The fourth part of the leg is a narrow stick - two straight lines. At the end of the leg is a single line hook for the foot.

Step 6: Sketch the front and rear leg

Sketch the front and rear leg

Now that you have mastered one leg, let's repeat the process for the other two. The front leg is shorter than the middle leg, and we will draw just two of those larger upside-down "U" shaped parts, with one tiny "U" and a small hook for the foot.

The rear leg is longest of the three, it bends back, and is built of four widening out parts. And since the foot is larger, we will draw it as a small lightning bolt.

Step 7: Sketch the bee's antennae and pollen bag

Sketch the bee's antennae and pollen bag

Well, the hard work is done. Our bee only needs a pair of antennae - two lines coming forward from the head and bent down towards the flower.

The final optional detail is to add a bag of pollen onto the rear leg - another bell shape, or a closed, upside down "U".  Our bee has been as busy as a bee, so it's pollen bag is really full.

Step 8: Sketch the flower

Sketch the flower

The bee sketch is now complete. Let's just give our bee a flower to sit on. You can draw any flower you like. Here we have gone for a mess of ovals with some petals - this could be, say, a red clover flower.

Looking for an easier easier bee drawing? How to draw a bumblebee - very simple and very cute
How to draw a bumblebee: step-by-step drawing tutorial

How to draw a bumblebee - very simple and very cute

Learn how to draw a bumblebee. An extremely simple way to draw a cute cartoon style bumblebee from a few simple shapes.

How to draw a bee: outline the drawing step by step

Step 1: Outline the eye and mouth

Outline the eye and mouth

We start outlining the bee drawing by drawing out the eye. Next, we improve on the mandibles - the bee's mouth.  Add a small oval at the top, and then draw a narrower triangle with rounded-off corners underneath it.

Step 2: Outline the front legs

Outline the front legs

The next step is to draw the front two legs. These are a direct outline of the sketch, with some rounding off the sharp corners. Draw both feet as simple, thick lines.

Step 3: Outline the rear leg

Outline the rear leg

Here is a new trick to learn: the pollen attached is made of tiny dust lumps. So let's draw the pollen bag with a bumpy, thin line all around it.

Then outline the rest of the rear leg with the usual smooth line as the other legs.

Step 4: Draw the hairy head and thorax

Draw the hairy head and thorax

Here comes the next improvement to our sketch. Instead of outlining the head and body with a smooth single line, draw many thin hairs all around the sketched outlines.

The trick to a nice thick fur is a layer of many thin lines going in one direction, with another layer of fewer lines crisscrossed.

Also, if you do not have the patience to draw as fine hair as in the picture, suggesting just a few thicker hairs will look a bit more cartoony, but is also OK.

 

Step 5: Draw the antennae and the body

Draw the antennae and the body

Here is a simple step for a change - just outline the abdomen - the last part of the body  - and draw the antennae with thick lines.

Step 6: Draw the bee's wings

Draw the bee's wings

The wings are also a direct outline of the sketch, with one small trick: Draw the outer edges of the wings with a thicker line, and the rest with just a thin line.

Step 7: Draw the wing pattern

Draw the wing pattern

Next, suggest the pattern on the wings with just very light lines.

Step 8: Hatch the black stripes on the bee's body

Hatch the black stripes on the bee's body

Here is another step for the patient: fill the stripes on the abdomen with small thin lines to suggest the hairy parts, similar to the head and thorax outline.

And again, if you lack patience for many thin lines, just a few thicker hairs will work as well.

Step 9: Colour in the black parts

Colour in the black parts

To make the outlined drawing look much better, let's fill in the black parts of the bee's body. Fill in the eye, mouth, and legs. Notice we have left out a few white patches for the highlights. An easier trick, if you have thin enough eraser, is to fill the colour in, and then rub out the highlights with an eraser.

Finally, add another layer of black over the body stripes - leaving out the furry edges.

Step 10: Draw out the flower

Draw out the flower

Well, the bee drawing is done. The last piece to finish is to draw the flower our bee is sitting on. Here is your chance to improve on and finalise any of the flower's parts. Or if you are happy with your sketch, just outline it as we did.

How to draw a bee: completed pencil outline

How to draw a bee - completed outline drawing

Here is the completed bee after erasing the sketch lines. The main magic trick that really makes this drawing look realistic is the varying line thickness for the separate parts of the drawing.

This is a very different way how to draw a bee compared to our simple, cartoony how to draw a bumblebee tutorial.

How to draw a bee: finished coloured-in drawing

How to draw a bee - completed coloured-in drawing

The usual final step is to colour in the drawing. Well, here half of the work is done - we have already filled in all the black parts.

So just colour in the rest of the bee's body in a nice golden yellow. We have then used a darker yellow for some shading and suggesting some more hair texture.

Finally, use a light blue to colour in the semi-transparent wings - just draw lightly over the already coloured-in body for a transparent effect.  And of course, feel free to colour in your flower any colour you like!

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