With their marvelous interpretive-dance routines, complex social life, and delicious honey, honeybees are widely respected, but they’re anything but sweet to wild pollinators. In fact, a surfeit of honeybees is a big threat to our native bees and butterflies.
Posts Tagged ‘native bees’
March 21st marked the first day of spring and here in the mountains the warm early spring temperatures have begun to prompt the native bees to wake from their hibernation. Like many creatures, most native bees store up food during the warm months in preparation for a cold long winter.
The first thing waking bees do is perform a cleansing flight, they expel any excrement that has accumulated during their winter’s rest.
The next thing they do is search for food. Its not hard to see that there are no trees and flowers in bloom as the snow begins to melt and once again bare ground is exposed.
So what do these amazing little creatures do to survive until blossoms appear? Unlike colony-building honeybees, solitary bees don’t stockpile honey for times when blossoms are scarce.
There are an estimated 4,000 species of bees native to North American and range in size from carpenter bees, which are over an inch long, to tiny Perdita bees that barely reach 1/16 of an inch.
Native bees range in color from black or brown with yellow, orange, white, or pearl-colored markings. Others have body parts in metallic green or blue. Some are furry, while others are almost hairless.
Bees belong to the insect order Hymenoptera, which means “membrane-winged. These insects possess two pairs of wings, a distinct “waist,” and mouthparts adapted for biting or chewing. Bees are distinguished by their branched body hairs which are helpful in trapping pollen grains, and their wide leg segments.
The common names of bees often reflect nesting styles and other behaviors. Carpenter, mason, plasterer, leafcutter, digger, and polyester bees are named for the females’ nest-building techniques, whereas orchard, gourd, and alkali bees are named for their preferred habitat.
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