The Buzz on Native Bees

I’m second to none in my admiration for the great rhythm and blues singer Lavern Baker. Her hit records, like “Jim Dandy,” “I Cried a Tear,” and “Saved” led to her 1991 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Even the greats can go astray, though. In her 1960 recording of “Bumble Bee,” she sang “You hurt me like a bee/a bumble bee, an evil bumble bee.” Wrong! Bumblebees rarely sting and, as native bees, play a little-known but vital role in pollinating  flowers and crops. In fact, growers of greenhouse tomatoes deliberately establish bumblebee colonies in their facilities for pollination purposes.

Thanks to Bee Basics: An Introduction to our Native Bees, a 2011 Library Journal notable Government document co-produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service and the Pollinator Partnership, I now know that bumblebees and other native bees are responsible for 75 percent of the pollination of flowers and crops in the U.S. Given the many news stories in recent years regarding the mysterious “colony collapse disorder” affecting the non-native honey bee, the value of native bees described in this neat little booklet really “stung” me into a new awareness of these amazing and varied creatures. (By the way, native bees rarely sting, and many of their stings are mild.)

As I learned from Bee Basics, aside from bumblebees, most other species of native bees are solitary. They build nests in the ground, in dead trees and, in the case of a number of parasitic “cuckoo” bees, in the nests of other species. Thousands of species exist, many with very specialized tastes in pollen and nectar, those protein-laced plant products that convinced prehistoric wasps to give up their carnivorous wasp-ness in favor of a vegetarian diet.  The southern blueberry bee pollinates – wait for it – blueberry bushes, while squash bees pollinate cucurbits (pumpkins, squash, and zucchini to me). Competition from honey bees, environmental degradation, and pesticides all are hurting many of these interesting and literally life-giving insects so, to quote Arthur Miller, “attention must be paid” by all of us who benefit so mightily from them.

Bee Basics is written for the layperson, provides a huge amount of biological and ecological information in fewer than 50 pages, and is available here for you to read. You can also find it in a library.

As for Lavern Baker, I bear no hard feelings. I still love her version of “Bumble Bee!”

 

 

9 Responses to The Buzz on Native Bees

  1. Saad Foud says:

    I have been visiting your website lately because I am fascinated in reading the quality articles that you post. Keep it up!

    Like

  2. lebonangle says:

    I can’t believe some of the above comments….

    Like

  3. Jay Jenkins says:

    This looks like a short but informative book. I also love the use of “Bee” puns. They really add a bit of humour to your review. Thumbs up from me. :)

    Like

  4. car id says:

    Good book! Bees play an important role in pollinating flowering plants, and are the major type of pollinator in ecosystems that contain flowering plants. Bees are one of the most important insects on our planet!

    Like

  5. zannias vasilis says:

    DEAR SIR ,I AM INTERESTED IN TOPIC LIKE THIS.EVERYTHING
    WHICH IS RELATED TO NATURE IS VERY INTEREST!AS RESULT
    “AN INTRODUCTION TO OUR NATIVE BEES” IS A GOOD ARTICLE
    FOR THE LAYPERSON , WHICH PROVIDES A HUGE AMOUNT OF
    BIOLOGICAL AND ECOLOGICAL INFORMATION.
    YES , BUT IN A REAL WORLD.BECAUSE THIS WORLD IS A
    MATRIX!!!OUR SUN IS NOT REAL , IS A MIRRAGE!!!
    THE STARS , THE PLANETS , THE BEES , MILLION OF PEOPLE
    …ARE NOT REALLY!!!AND THE NAME OF MATRIX
    IS “XTHONA”
    (ANCIENT GREEK NAME).THIS IS THE BIGGEST SECRET!!!
    THERE ARE 32 UNIVERSES , AND THE MATRIX IS IN THE NUMBER 10 REAL UNIVERSE!!!IN THIS ARTIFICIAL UNIVERSE
    A FEW PEOPLE ARE REALLY WITH SOUL!!!THIS MATRIX WAS
    CREATED THOUSANDS YEARS AGO BY A DARK POWER (REPTILES-
    PEOPLE AND ITS ALLY ARE BEHIND IT) VIA A VERY HIGH
    TECHNOLOGY(EXTRATERRESTRIAL)!!!THE SOUL OF MILLION
    PEOPLE WERE CAPTURED BY THEM!!!THIS MATRIX(UNIVERSE)
    MUST BE DESTROYED!!!AND THE FORCES OF LIGHT WILL DESTROY IT VERY SOON!!!

    Like

  6. S.P. says:

    Interesting read and didn’t get stung.
    Epipen at my side just in case.

    Like

  7. Drako says:

    Wonderfully illustrated and very instructive publication…

    I like it!

    Like

  8. Eric Frazier says:

    As long as I don’t get stung…. I’m good! Nice post!

    Like

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