Nature's Pollination Machines
Native bees are the most efficient and effective pollinators on earth.
Fostering environments for native bees in your garden can greatly increase production and provide homes for bees suffering from habitat loss.
There are many easy ways to support these beneficial pollinators in your garden and Spriggly's Beescaping can help!
There are 24 different species of bumblebees in the U.S.
• These native bees live in nests of around 50 bees.
• Bumblebees use buzz pollination; they vibrate their bodies against flowers to help release pollen.
• They have the longest tongues of all bees, which means they can reach the bottom of some really big flowers! During the winter the queen bumble bee pumps a type of anti-freeze fluid to stay alive, something only she can do and other bumblebees can’t.
• Bumblebees can nest in holes made by rodents, in compost heaps, or underneath outside buildings. There are some that nest above ground in bird boxes, in trees, and in thick grass.
Suggested Reading: Bumblebees of North America. Find this book on our resource page.
Although these bees can be a nuisance to your house, they are essential to the environment.
• They are the biggest in size out of all native bee species.
• Because these beneficial pollinators can be a bother to wood on your house, always keep wood painted to help prevent boring.
• Loss of habitat is a major reason carpenter bees choose wood on houses for their homes.
• Leaving an area "wild" in your yard offers preferred housing options to carpenter bees, such as old logs and fallen trees. Since carpenter bees like soft wood, these "wild" areas are more attractive than your home.
"Tomatoes pollinated by carpenter bees have heavier fruits than those pollinated by other insects"
- From Bees in Your Backyard. Find this book on our resource page.
Just like a mason, when these bees build inside their solitary homes, they use dirt, mud, and small rocks.
• Mason bees forage for longer during the day than most other bees, especially in the early morning and early evening.
• They can spend up to twice as much time foraging for pollen than honeybees.
• Mason bees live for 4-6 weeks and during that time they lay between 10-15 eggs.
• Mason bees live in holes made by other insects or houses provided by humans.
• Just like a mason, they build walls with dirt, mud, and twigs, creating separate rooms for each of their eggs inside one home.
• Males are laid towards the front of the mason bee home and the females are laid towards the back. As female bees both lay eggs and build homes, they are most important and are given extra protection.
"An estimated 99% of flowers landed on by mason bees get pollinated. 2000 per day vs. about 15 per day for honeybees."
- From Mason Bee Revolution. Find this book on our resource page.
Orchard Mason Bee
250 female orchard mason bees can pollinate one acre of apple orchards. The same area would require around 20,000 honeybees.
• They are important pollinators of early fruit and nut plants.
• One of the few native bees that has seen commercial use.
• Active in much colder weather than some other bee species, allowing it to be more active in early spring.
• The orchard mason bee is a distinctive iridescent black, blue color.
Suggested Reading: The Orchard Mason Bee. Find this book on our resource page.
Named for its ability to cut pieces of leaves, this bee uses leaves as wallpaper and building material for its home.
• The leafcutter bee is in the most widespread bee family; they can be found in places all over the world.
• Most active during the summer, leafcutter bees prefer temperatures in the 80s.
• Just as their name describes, these bees cut off pieces of leaves to use as building material. They use leaves to create separate rooms for each of their eggs and also “decorate” with leaves by lining the walls, providing an extra layer of protection for the eggs inside.
• They are very versatile in the tunnels that they live in, such as between roof shingles, inside tunnels in dead wood, snail shells, and even pine cones. Some species also use mud while building their nests.
• Certain crops in the United States depend on species of leafcutter bees for production, such as alfalfa.
Suggested Reading: The Bees in Your Backyard. Find this book on our resource page.
Image featured: Leaf Cutter Bee | by Rodger_Evans Leaf Cutter Bee
The sweat bee gets its name because the bee is often known to land on humans to drink the salt from their sweat!
• One of the few species of native bees that sometimes exhibits eusocial behavior, meaning they can live cooperatively together in a nest.
• There are three different species that are all classified as sweat bees. They each have a distinctive color and marking.
• Sweat bees are key pollinators of many commercial crops such as carrots and onions, as well as plants in the sunflower family.
Suggested Reading: The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America's Bees. Find this book on our resource page.
Image Credit: Augochlora Sweat Bee - (Augochlora pura) by Larry Crovo.