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Bees in the City

Can you imagine a world without flowers or trees…or even food like apples or grapes or tomatoes or almonds? While we think of plants being responsible for those bounties of nature, there is a tiny insect that is critically important to the process of making fruit…and even making new plants.

It is the bee.

Bees pollinate flowers and pollinated flowers make seeds. And many seeds grow with a fleshy shell around them that we call a fruit. Remember the little seeds inside an apple?

We often think of honey bees as being the most important pollinator of plants, but there’s an interesting story there. Did you know that native bees are called “solitary bees” because they don’t live in large colonies and they don’t make honey combs. North America is home to as many as 3,500 species of bees! Astounding!

They come in many shapes, sizes and colors, but if you see an insect on a flower busily packing pollen onto its hind legs or under its abdomen, it’s probably a bee. Bees love warm days and bright blossoms. On a warm summer day, a typical backyard garden may contain thirty or more species and hundreds of individual bees. The female bees are the busiest pollinators, and the males are often busy buzzing other bees to chase them out of their territory.

While the imported honey bee – they came from Europe – has been an important agricultural aid to pollinate groves of fruit trees and acres of garden plants like squash and cucumbers, the native bees are very important to our native plants. Native plants that require pollination can range from tiny wildflowers so small you can hardly see them to giant cacti in the desert.

There are 46 species of Bumblebees in North America. They like to nest underground. They dig a hole or find an abandoned mouse nest and lay their eggs deep in the soil to protect them from cold weather and predators.

Some bee species lay their eggs in tiny nooks and crannies of bark, old wood.

It’s possible to make little houses for solitary bees. Because our wilderness areas are losing so much habitat for all wildlife, bees are another family that we can help nurture by planting a bee garden with lots of native flowering plants they love, and by providing them with shelter.

Here are a couple articles to help you learn more about these amazing and ancient pollinators who help make our wild lands lush with plants and fruits.

For more articles about INSECTS

Lady Bug Invasion
Moths and Nightlights
Bees in the City
Insects are busy little critters
Earth's Most Successful Life Form
Keeping ants in nature