Flowers are a common subject for watercolor paintings—but what about the little pollinators that keep those flowers thriving? Bees are essential to the environment, and they’re surprisingly simple to paint! Whether you want to add a few bees to a botanical composition or feature a bee as the focal point of your painting, learn how to paint a watercolor bee with the tutorial below. 

How to Paint an Easy Watercolor Bee

To paint an easy watercolor bee, you will need a few basic supplies: watercolor paint (black, yellow, ultramarine blue, and burnt sienna), paper, two brushes—one medium and one small—and a white gel pen. 

New to Watercolors? 

Art Essentials: Learn Watercolor Painting Basics

Step 1: Start With the Dark Tones

watercolor bee body
Create three black shapes, leaving a small gap between each section. 

Watercolor artists generally move from the lightest colors to the darkest. However, in this painting, you’ll use the opposite technique and go from dark to light. 

Using your medium brush, start by painting the black parts of the bee. Paint three separate sections: a small, triangular shape (the head), a wide hourglass shape (the body), and a semicircle with a point (the tail). Leave a small space between each section—later, you will add yellow in those gaps. Let this layer dry completely before moving on. (Pro tip: A heat tool or dryer can speed up the drying process if you’re in a hurry!)

Step 2: Fill in the Yellow

watercolor body
Add a deep yellow between each black section, making the bottom yellow portion come to a point. 

Using a deep yellow hue, fill in the spaces between the black shapes. Round the outer edge of each yellow portion to create the segmented look of the bee’s body. The last section, at the bottom of the body, should come to a point. 

Step 3: Paint the Wings 

bee body
Add two heart-shaped wings to the bee’s body, as well as some thin detail lines within the wings.

Mix an ultramarine blue with burnt sienna to create a dark grey-blue color, and then dilute it with a bit of water so it’s not too dark—lighter, more transparent pigment will help the wings appear translucent. Using the smaller of your two brushes, draw the outline of the wings. Each wing is comprised of two sections, with the top portion extending a bit further than the bottom part. Or, think about it this way: Each wing should resemble a lopsided heart shape. 

Finally, add a few thin lines of veining throughout the wings. This will help give the illusion that the wings are transparent. 

Step 4: Add the Antenna and Legs

get great details on your bee
Use a thin brush to add final details including antenna and legs. 

With your black paint and thinnest brush, add the final details to the watercolor bee, including the antenna and legs. Add a leg on each side of the upper yellow section, and then two legs on each side (in a V shape) extending from just below the wings. Don’t worry about making perfectly straight lines—irregular, slightly bent lines will allow the legs to look more realistic. 

When painting the legs, start with a single, thin line. Then, thicken the bottom section of each leg (the portion closest to the bee’s body) with a few additional strokes of paint. This will create the look of a jointed leg.  

Step 5: Highlight With a White Gel Pen 

watercolor bee
Use a white gel pen to add highlights to the bee’s body. 

Add the final details and highlights with a white gel pen. Why a gel pen? Gel pen ink will show up opaquely over watercolor paint, whereas white watercolor paint would be far too transparent to layer on top of black or yellow. A few thin lines will help define the bee’s abdomen and create additional definition. 

Showcase Your Bees

Once you know how to paint easy watercolor bees, you can incorporate them into paintings of flowers, botanical gardens, beehives, or landscapes—or use them as the main subject. It’s a fun, easy way to add life to your paintings and showcase these incredible, essential creatures!

Create a Backdrop for Your Bees!

Magical Watercolor Flower Paintings 101: The Art of Dispersion

Written By

Katie Wolf

  • Click here to share on Twitter
  • Click here to share on Facebook
  • Click here to share on LinkedIn
  • Click here to share on Pinterest