From the Field

Focus on Native Bees, Not Honey Bees

August 19, 2019

bee on yellow flower
A male long-horned bee (Melissodes sp) on stiff sunflower (Helianthus pauciflorus. Photo © Chris Helzer / TNC

The public is very aware that we are in the midst of a pollination crisis. In fact, concern about bees and other pollinators is nearly unanimous in public polling.

At a time when we are polarized on most issues, the need to do something about bees is something we can all agree on. Unfortunately, when people fret about bees and the threats they face, most are thinking about strictly about honey bees.

Honey bees are fascinating creatures. They’ve got an incredible social structure within their hives, they play important roles in the pollination of many food plants we like, and honey is delicious. However, honey bees are also an introduced livestock species in North America and only one of about 4,000 kinds of bees found in North America.

The thousands of native bee species living mostly below our collective radar are split into categories such as digger bees, carpenter bees, mason bees, sweat bees, bumble bees, and cuckoo bees.

The majority of those species don’t live in hives where workers cater to the needs of the queen and raise her babies for her. Instead, most native bees are reared in small nests built and tended by single mothers. Those female bees lay eggs, supply them with food, and protect them from enemies – all by themselves. A distinct minority of native bees live under some kind of cooperative system, and only a very few employ the kind of eusocial behavior we associate with honey bees.

Honey bee on butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa). Photo © Chris Helzer / TNC

The Dizzying Variety of Native Bees

Native bees also come in a dizzying array of colors, shapes, and feeding preferences. Bumble bees can be as large as your thumb, but many bee species are smaller than a grain of rice. Some are generalists that can feed opportunistically on whichever flowers are most abundant at the time.

Others are much more restricted in their diet, sometimes to a single species or group of species of wildflower. Plants, in turn, display a broad diversity of flower designs that can either make their nectar and pollen available to all comers or limited to only bees of a certain size, tongue length, or ability to vibrate flowers at a specific frequency.

Despite the astonishing variety among bees in North America, most conversations about bee conservation center on a single, largely agricultural species. Imagine if we did the same thing with birds — we’d be trying to raise more turkeys on farms out of concern for massive declines in overall bird populations.

A bumble bee rests on lanceleaf gayfeather. Bumble bees are unusual in their size among native bees, and also because they have a eusocial organization somewhat similar to honey bees. Photo © Chris Helzer / TNC

To be clear, honey bees really are suffering declines. In fact, a recent report showed that around 38 percent of managed honey bee colonies in the U.S. were lost during the winter of 2018-19.

Honey bees are in no real danger of extinction, however, because humans are managing their populations. Native bees don’t have that kind of support system.

Honey bees also don’t cover the wide range of ecological roles played by our diverse native bee communities. The aforementioned variety of features and behaviors found within native bees means they can meet the needs of an incredible diversity of flowering plants. In contrast, honey bees provide pollination for a relatively small percentage of native flower species (estimates from around the world vary between 25 percent and 40 percent). In order to conserve the full species diversity and resilience of our ecosystems, we need our native bees.

The blue sage bee (Tetraloniella cressoniana) feeds only on a single host species, the blue sage, aka pitcher sage (Salvia azurea). Photo © Chris Helzer / TNC

The Fate of Native Bees

In addition to their inability to shoulder the entire load of pollination, there is also growing evidence that honey bees compete with and potentially contribute to the declines of native bees. That’s concerning, and it should make us thoughtful about how and where we place honey bee hives in and around natural areas. However, it’s also important to know that honey bees are not the primary reason our native bees are suffering.

In fact, honey bees and native bees share most of the same threats to their survival, with the loss of quality habitat topping that list. Similarly, many of the strategies to help save native bees will also help honey bees — and vice versa. We just need to be careful that saving honey bees aren’t the primary focus of conservation efforts or communications.

Increasing the size and quality of habitat for pollinators will boost populations of all bees, including both native bees and honey bees. Yes, certain pesticides and diseases are also causing major problems and we should continue to work on those issues as well.

Walsh’s digger bee (Anthophora walshii) hangs upside down while it warms up after a cool night. Photo © Chris Helzer / TNC

However, adequate habitat quantity and quality greatly dampens the impacts of those other threats. We need to protect and restore plant diversity in natural areas and agricultural landscapes so that nectar and pollen resources are abundantly available throughout the year. In addition, we need to rebuild and reconnect floristically rich habitats wherever we can. Those are the only viable strategies to conserve bees of all kinds (and most of our native biodiversity).

Compared to those gargantuan tasks, changing the way we talk about bees seems pretty easy, but it is still really important. There are too many news stories that start with something like, “bees are suffering” and then proceed to talk only about honey bees.

Schools talk a lot about the social structure of honey bees, but don’t mention the majority of bees that don’t live that way. As a result, much of the public recognizes that we are experiencing a pollination catastrophe but thinks it’s an issue of bee keepers and their struggles to save their animals.

The real story of pollinators and their declines is much more compelling than the battle to save a livestock industry. The incredible variety among native bees, alone, can catch the public’s attention, especially when accompanied by photos showing the broad range of size, color, and shape among those bees.

green bee
A metallic green bee (Agapostemon splendens) using its long tongue to feed on purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea. Photo © Chris Helzer / TNC)

People can also empathize easily with the extraordinary challenges facing single mom bees trying to feed and protect their progeny in a world of habitat fragmentation and degradation. Including butterflies, moths, flies, wasps and other insects in the discussion provides even more fascinating pollinator accounts and images.

The pollinator narrative is also easy to frame in ways that fit into the broader conservation context. Pollinators rely on habitat size, habitat connectivity, and plant diversity. Those are the key components of conservation success for most other species too, including our own.

Rebuilding and protecting the healthy and resilient landscapes bees need will provide for the needs of both nature and people. That’s a story we should be telling.

Perdita perpallida is a tiny pale bee that specializes on prairie clovers, such as the silky prairie clover it is feeding on in this photo, and lives in sandy soils. Photo © Chris Helzer / TNC

The public already cares about pollinators; we just need to be smarter about how we talk about them. If we’re successful, we’ll save much more than just bees. We can start by fixing our myopic focus on honey bees.

Turkeys are impressive and interesting creatures, but we’d never choose them as the primary focus of our bird conservation communications and strategies. Why, then, are we following that pattern for bees?

Let’s celebrate the incredible diversity of our native bee and pollinator communities and be more creative in the ways we engage the public on the topic of pollinator conservation. With 4,000 bee species in North America, along with countless other species of pollinators, it’s not like we’re short on material.

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97 comments

  1. What types of healthy landscapes can be promoted. Is there a site to learn more listed by State and regions?

  2. I’d love to see regional lists of host plants and the bees they attract.

  3. Enjoyed this article a lot, very informative. I’m trying to make my yard more pollynater friendly. I don’t use any pesticides. I’ve spot sprayed my alley and yard for sandburs and crab grass. I don’t like doing this but I don’t want the neighbors mad at me. I’ve had lots of bumblebees and wasp and a few other bees. Thanks for the article

  4. We’ve been enjoying seeing the huge bumblebees in our garden. The Bee Balm is done now (they loved it!) but they are still buzzing around the larkspur, prairie clover and coneflowers. We see other bees, too. Thanks for the boost to native bees!

  5. Chris,
    Thank you so much for this great article and wonderful photos of a few native bees.

    May I respectfully request permission to use your photos for educational purposes? I am a Master Gardener volunteer in San Diego. I volunteer to teach the public about earth friendly gardening and I am working on a presentation on pollinators. I need more photos of native bees.
    Let me know if I have your permission to use these photos.
    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Marsha, you’re certainly welcome to use the images for the use you mentioned. Feel free to visit prairieecologist.com and search for “bee” to find even more images.

  6. Thank you. I just did NOT know. I will spread this info as best as I can.

  7. I have long been interested in the natural world and our affect on it. This article has shown me something I have not been aware of. More info is needed especially what I can do with my small piece of land.

  8. What is the recommendation for us then ? What kind of native plants are best to plant?

  9. Love NWF. But I have a question/comment. You really give no guidance on how to foster native bees other than plant nectar perennials. Which also serve honey bees so…. ok native bees are different and also important. Is that all the article was trying to convey?? If so fine but it seemed to be scolding us and implying we should be doing more for natives but not giving us any concrete steps…. please advise.

    1. Mary, no scolding was intended. I just wanted to highlight the idea that we need to do more than just focus on a single species. Ensuring that a diversity of flowers are in your yard (including native plants as much as possible) is a great start. Beyond that, increasing habitat quantity and quality is the big key to success for all bees. That’s tough to fix as an individual person, but thankfully, there are great conservation organizations that are working on that, and you can support them! May I respectfully recommend The Nature Conservancy as one option? : )

    1. Marianne, it varies wildly by site. Diversity is more important that particular species, especially diversity of flowers that ensure multiple species of plants are flowering at all times throughout the growing season. For more information, try this: https://xerces.org/pollinator-conservation/

  10. Great article!

    I’m a Girl Scout leader and 2 of my 5th grade girls did their Bronze Award project about our native pollinators and what people can do to help them.

    If you are looking to plant native, there are quite a few resources out there from the US Forest service, Fish & Wildlife Service, even the Audubon Society (though their lists focus on what is good for birds).

    My girls found that the National Wildlife Federation’s to be particularly helpful.

    https://www.nwf.org/Garden-for-Wildlife/About/Native-Plants/Native-Plant-Types

  11. I have been an advocate of native bees for sometime. I always try to point out to people that honey bees are alien to this continent and our native bees are just as important to pollination than are honey bees, even more so. In my garden I use no “cides” and let native plants flourish. I often take photos of native bees and post them on my FB page. I understand that all our pollinators are in danger from humans and habitat loss. I belong to the Xerces Society and contribute to their organization. I hope for more awareness of all our pollinators, not just honey bees. I have a wild hive on my property that arrived two years ago. The person who lives on the property across the road has hives and raises queen bees. I assume they came from there. I leave them alone and they made it through one winter. Only time will tell if they will survive.

  12. Well I certainly did not know that not all bees are black and yellow. We definitely need more education so they are not mistaken for an odd type of fly or wasp.

  13. We live in a coastal California forest. In my large property I grow as many native species of flowering plants as possible. I’ll be out working among Pride of Madera, for example, and enjoy hearing the bees buzzing all around me in the dense purple spires of flowers. I’ve seen several types of bees, including honey bees of course. The only time I was stung was entirely by accident. And not in my garden but on the beach as I was raising my hand to wave at a friend and a poor bee got caught in the action. I have to admit to hurt more than I imagined it would, but it didn’t make me afraid or stop me from working among them in the yard.

  14. While our family hobby is honey bee keeping , we also have large flower gardens as well as a vegetable garden. We have noticed an increase in all the natural wildflowers and with that an increase in the number of native bees, hornets and wasps.
    Our friends and neighbours have developed an interest in bees and have discontinued their habits of setting out traps for hornets and wasp as well they have lessened their lawn mowing and taken a interest in planting bee friendly plants.
    I live in newfoundland. One of the last places in North America where bees can bee raised relatively disease and pest free.
    I hope that my hobby will in some small may encourage and educate others about the importance of preserving all our habitats and the wonders in it.

  15. Chris – I follow your blog and always enjoy your amazing photography and your passion for prairie habitats. The city of Greeley, CO manages about 1000 acres of primarily suburban “natural areas”. We strive to manage these areas to the benefit of all our wildlife species, including native pollinators. Our struggle is getting neighbors to understand that these are not weed-infested sites that should be mowed short throughout the growing season – e.g. treating them the same as an irrigated, manicured park devoid of habitat. But we stay strong and continually convey the message that it is our social responsibility to provide and protect these habitat areas to the benefit of those species that rely on them as their home, grocery store and gathering spaces. Keep sharing your insights and passion – they help me stay positive and find new ways to re-educate our public.

  16. Wonderful! Thank you so much for writing this! I will definitely share. I live in SoCal and have a robust native plant garden. I’m on a recent quest to ID all the wildlife visiting my garden and have dicovered a wide variety of native bee species and shared these with iNaturalist (kriseth7) and post photos of native bees on FB groups, garden groups, to advocate for native plant landscapes and native wildlife and pollinators. People are becoming very engaged and expanding their knowledge with new vocabulary. People interested in supporting regional bee species should seek out their native plant societies and garden clubs. Native plants have evolved along with native insects! The difference is remarkable. Plant native!

  17. I believe that wildflowers are the only hope for the bees. Meanwhile, we have declared a war on wildflowers. The highways and farm to market roads are over mowed during peak wildflower blooming season. In North Texas, our bluebonnet season was a big disappointment. Ladybird Johnson, who pioneered the planting of wildflowers along our highways, would be livid!

  18. Great photos and texts. I am amazed that you captured that Perdita. It’s hard to get people even to appreciate native bees. I am particularly interested in these that are specific plant visitors. thanks.

  19. This is so true! I am a beekeeper, increasingly frustrated and discouraged with everything my honeybees are up against and yet I also understand it’s not only about honeybees. I’ve made the decision that this will be my last year of beekeeping if my bees, once again, dint make through the winter. Instead, I plan to put my resources into enhancing my property with native plants so it will encourage ALL pollinators. It takes a village … one garden at a time.

  20. Would it be possible to distribute photographs of native bees in their habitats to the interested public? Since the majority of the general public are unaware of native bees spreading the message of their needs and ways to assist them might encourage citizens to address the problems native bees face. The photographs in this article are enchanting and could be the jump start that is needed to include more people. It has been written that a picture is worth a thousand words. What if this information were more widely known in places where the public could become involved. There are efforts to incorporate farmers and ranchers to promote native pollinators, what about including suburban and urban citizens? Are there efforts to include the backyard gardeners in this effort? My first thought would be Master Gardeners at local Agricultural Extension Offices and at garden centers. Any input?

  21. Well, thats an article that needed to be written! We all hear about honey bees & their vulnerability, but I didnt know they are not native bees! Nor that all bees dont live exactly the same way. Single mothers, huh?
    Will have to investigate more native flowering plants now.
    Sadly, not only have I seen only a couple single butterflies but very few bees – other than the huge ones that may be carpenter or bumbles.
    Great information as always

  22. Thanks so much for this article! I got to be part of a study counting pollinators and beneficial insects here (my tiny retiring farm on the mostly dry New Mexico prairie) this summer, counting four quadrats and two transects every other week. I thought I knew my insects, but I’d never seen most of the tiny native bees I got to count. I was stunned at how many different species I saw (with the help of a loaned pair of close-focus glasses), and learned which flowers drew which bees, and syrphid flies, and a full complement of various wasps as well. Though some honey bees showed up in June when more flowers were blooming, they disappeared by July, leaving the field to the natives, which may not be evident if plants cease flowering in a dry spell, but the bees are back after a little rain, and they are still at it in late August. I have come to love them, and I no longer worry that dwindling honey bees will mean disaster for our plants, at least here where routine agriculture is difficult. We have our little friends…

  23. I have a good-sized native Greater lobelia here in Michigan. It has about 20 blossoms on it right now. There are two bees feeding on it almost continually. The bees look like Bumble bees but they are smaller than the ones I normally see. Are they juveniles or a different species?

  24. Will native bees use man made hives? Are there honey good to eat. How do I get information on keeping all kinds of bees? I plan to move in October, I will plant flowering plants to bring the bees.

  25. How can we get our villages on board to create pollinator corridors, use less pesticides, rake and mow less?

  26. Thank you for this eye-opening, enlightening article. I will search further and learn to identify various native bees in my area.

  27. This is a useful, comprehensive overview, and the photo of the Perdita perpallida is stunning. I never could have imagined that one.

    It would be useful to have another post focused on ways to provide nesting opportunities for native bees, since most don’t live the hive-centric life of honeybees. Bare earth or patches of debris for bumblebees and other ground-nesting bees, old wood for carpenter bees, bamboo or wooden tubes for leaf-cutter bees: all can help to sustain these wonderful creatures. They’re always on the lookout for a home; every year I see leaf-cutter bees moving into small vent covers, ventilators, or sliding hatches on boats. I suppose ‘any port in a storm’ is wisdom for bees, too, but it would be nice for them to be able to find more dependable lodging.

  28. A mind-expanding read. Schools teach mostly honey bee conservation challenges. I’ll send this text to my teacher daughter-in-law. I’ve known about other bees. This article reminds me that I can be more educational in my conversations. And I still want to know who stung me last week!

  29. I am honored to have a Mason bee make a nest in a miniature bird house on my front porch. She is a beautiful irridescent blue-green, medium sized bee and very industriously working on the nest. I can only see her when she comes and goes or if she is hanging around the tiny hole entrance to her home. I have sent away for a book on Mason bees so I know what to grow for her. I try not to bother her but it is hard to pass her home and not say “hello” to her every day”. I pray she thrives on my porch for a long time.

  30. another way to help native bee pollinators of all kinds is
    to make a bee ‘hotel’ 20x30x20 inch with small logs
    and holes drilled in them from 1/8″ to about 1/2″
    especially for the winter egg laying & hibernation period …
    plenty of examples around the web on how
    to build one, designs, etc …

  31. By this time of year my apple tree would be full of bees. I don’t know what kind, but have been told they
    aren’t honey bees. This year the Japanese beetles chewed holes in all of the leaves and they turned brown in July. Does this mean that the tree will die. I know this isn’t a bee question, but maybe you can give me an answer. If the tree will die, I want to cut it down this fall and replant another kind of tree.

  32. Thanks for a very interesting article, with great photos! I wonder whether Nature Conservancy could also supply articles (or links to articles) which detail what we can do to help in this fight. Donating to Nature Conservancy to help preserve habitat is surely one step, but should we also be lobbying legislators for specific actions, growing specific plants in our gardens, and writing to manufacturers of substances which threaten pollinators?

  33. thank you.awareness of all the different bees in my yard make my life richer.at the vegetable stand down the road they are selling sunflowers grown on the north fork and they are covered with honey bees!so a nest is nearby.I gave up raising honey bees because it was a losing and expensive battle but nature is at work,picking up the slack.no spray,small bit of mowing,lots of flowers ,and please no round-up.

  34. I bought 50 Summer leafcutter bees from Tractor Supply Company after I saw these cute little bee houses for sale. They have hollow bamboo canes and drilled holes in pieces of wood for nesting. I hope I hatch new bees next year but I could always purchase some more and try again.

  35. Three years ago I bought a A-frame bee shelter from an upper Midwest native plant provider. Mineral oil soaked into the pine and paper tubes of two sizes lay horizontal. Bees capped off only a few. Not many seals broke, by emerging insects or perhaps by invading predators. Unfortunately, I have very few flowers in this shady back yard; the neighbors clear cut but apparently do not apply chemicals. I have observed sweat and carpenter bees in the yard.

  36. We enjoy planting for bees and Monarch butterflies in our SE Michigan backyard. If you look on line at Mason Bee houses you can try out your own simple DIY project and support bees in your backyard too. Mason bees plant an egg into a hole drilled into a block of wood and then fill the hole with food for the pupae once it hatches. It eats it’s way out of the hole and emerges, ready to fly and pollinate our veg garden.
    Monarchs visit all day long flitting around the native Michigan perennial flowers in bloom and laying eggs on the swamp milkweed in the back corner where “the wild things grow”. It doesn’t take much effort to create a tranquil little corner that supports birds, bees, beautiful butterflies and the odd squirrel or two. I think of it as my”meditation time” especially in the mornings and evenings. (Lightning bugs like milkweed too).

  37. This is so very interesting. I hope you do a follow up story on native bees in Colorado and which ones live in prairie, foothills habitat, and higher elevation montane habitat. This regional approach would really be helpful. Then I can adapt my nature-watching and landscaping habits to the region I live in, and I can talk with my neighbors who would be most interested in regional/local native bees. Maybe TNC-Colorado can provide this? I hope you take this next step! Thank you so much!

  38. Thanks for your rousing article and terrific photos, Chris. I knew little about native bees until I started researching the literature and spending “deep look” time in my garden, in part, for a pollinator garden workbook I developed. It’s been a tough year for bees here on the northern CA coast (numbers down), so I know everything I plant and keep going is that much more important. My talks on pollinators always emphasize the importance of our native bees. It’s heartening to see the excitement people have when they discover these amazing insects. As for me, a whole new and deeper world opens up.

  39. Does the spraying with Sumethrin affect (kill) native ground bees and other pollinators? Our town is spraying 3 to 4 times from helicopters and roads to kill mosquitos. I s it also killing food sources of protein that birds need?

  40. THANK YOU FOR THE TIME AND EFFORTS TO PUBLISH THIS ARTICLE. I REALLY HAD NO IDEA ABOUT MANY OF THESE NATIVE POLLINATORS AND WILL SAVE THIS ARTICLE FOR REFERENCE.
    GOOD JOB!!!!

  41. I never knew! I would love to have a garden for polinators.. This year I fought the Chinese Beatles eating my flowers without killing the bumblebees.

  42. I love native bees and keep native plants in my garden that local bees and other insects have relationships with. Although I am in an suburban setting at least a mile away from the natural habitats of these native plants a large variety of tiny bees to huge Carpenter bees visit my flowers every day of the year weather allowing. A large variety of other beneficial insects including many types of gentle wasps also make regular stops. I wish I could post some of the photos I have taken here.

  43. Wow! I had no idea there were so many different kinds of bees. Our world is so big and we really know so little. Thank you for providing information that not only educates us, but also entertains us and entices us to become more involved in this wonderful worlrd.

  44. Excellent blog! I am reporting to “the great sunflower project” which is collecting data on all pollinators. It’s lots of fun and only requires 7 minutes a day and as many days as observer chooses to report.

  45. Don’t forget the wasps and hornets. I live in high Steppe/ Sage country. We have quite a few wasp pollinators, in addition to several different types of bumble bees, and bee flies too!

  46. I agree 100% Chris.

    Something is killing honeybees. Native species are struggling from habitat loss. The abatement strategies are immensely different.

    I witnessed something last fall that “honeybee people” should consider: I have a bad Coke Zero habit. One sunny morning after a cold crisp night, I witnessed a continuous stream of honey bees traveling in and out of a small hole in the garbage can I use to keep my empty pop cans in. It was 100% Coke Zero cans… It was clear the bees were ‘nectaring’ on asparatame.

    Now I don’t propose that this is the honeybee’s problem, but it could contribute. Every bee in a large radius was keyed in on this ‘nectar’ source. It wouldn’t provide them the energy they needed to find real nectar (at a time when flowers are sparse) and it would be a bad way to go into a cold Iowa winter… Are ‘energy sinks’ an issue? It’s worth a second thought.

    Hope all is well in NE, Chris!

  47. Informative articles like this one are the reason I joined The Nature Conservancy. Thank you for NOT mentioning “climate change”.

  48. Amazingly important, wonderful article. I’m working furiously to diversify flora on my property to accommodate all pollinators and will be getting mason bees next spring.

  49. Having moved from California to Virginia after the Camp Fire I have seen firsthand and can attest to the immense diversity of bee types in Virginia. I’ve set out upon the task of getting to know them and generating habitat and food sources for them. It’s a fascination and rewarding journey! What beautiful little creatures!!!

  50. Thanks for information on various bees that pollenate various plant species. I plant various flowers and enjoy watching the pollen species.

  51. Hi All we need to take care of the bees and the earth. I love bees and the earth.

  52. My grandfather had beehives and I remember seeing him take the top off the hive and scoop the bees up in his hand to talk to them! I have to admit, though, that I wasn’t aware that there were other kinds of bees. Fascinating!

  53. I’ve been working on this strategy for several years in my own planting and observations. I enjoyed this article immensely as it has provided me with new dialogue to help advance the cause of preserving diversity. Check with local independent nurseries for native plants when adding to or creating a pollen garden.

  54. I have a mostly native garden and find that diversity is the key to getting many types of native bees, butterflies, moths and birds too.

  55. As a bee keeper I talk to school children about saving honey bees. That has been the emphasis. Do you supply hand outs including native bees to supplement my
    teaching events ?
    As you report , I had to replace my bees again this year with new bees.
    I am mentoring a scout camp with two hives on their property too.
    Taking an observation hive to events seems to be the highlight.
    Any additional info on other species you could provide would help spread the
    word.
    Thank you,
    John Irvine

  56. I bought a thyme plant some years back and have since given it away in record numbers because of its wonderful attraction to bees of all types not to mention butterflies and moths. Once the blooming starts, daily it is busy with swallowtails, skippers, cabbage moths, bumble bees, carpenter bees, honey bees, what I call helicopter bees and a whole lot of small bees that I don’t know the name of. One of the reasons the thyme is so popular is that it keeps on blooming, producing fresh flowers all through the season, so it is a constant food source when other things like monarda is finished blooming. Thyme can be invasive if you don’t watch it because it roots easily and it also pops up by seed. At the end of each season, I cut it back and pull up what I don’t want and put it in pots for others for next year.

  57. This is a wonderfully informative article. Thank you! I’ve been working on planting more perennials and natives. I’m hoping for a bee/butterfly/hummingbird rock garden. So far so good especially with the variety of bumblebees I’ve seen. I’m passing this article on. Again, thanks.

  58. I love seeing all of the different bees that come to the plants in my yard. I have been trying to only buy native plants to put in the yard. There seems to be a variety of bees that come to them.

  59. Please understand that what hurts ALL bees hurts All humans. It is good to open up peoples’ eyes to the breath and diversity of bees and their key place in life on earth. They evolved during the last period of super-high CO2 and have something to teach us. What is it?

  60. I have a small black bee with white stripes digging into fallen apple and pear fruit in my orchard in Hinckley Ohio.
    This year they are competing with yellow jackets in creating holes in the fruit for their feasting.
    J. Dolcini

  61. Fascinating article! Had no idea we have so many species of bees in N. America! Sounds like we all need to plant wild flowers to help those amazing creatures. What other ways besides this can we make positive changes to help our little friends? Suggestions for raising the level of awareness. So many environmental issues and so much noise out there.

  62. A major problem for the health of bees are the semi-trailer trucks that haul billions of bees around our country to pollinate the industry farming groves for food production. When there are trailers full of sick and dying bees being hauled around the country, disease is spread.

  63. Excellent article that should be read by all who are concerned with pollinator decline.

  64. Good information, I had no idea about how many bees there are. I knew of sweat bees, bumble bees, & carpenter bees I had experience with the carpenter a few years back. i too had never been informed about how native bees live, nor the distinction between honey & native.
    I am 79 and I do not see the amount of creatures that i did as a child. Also, this year my zucchini plant did not produce as they normally do. Early in the spring i was surprised by the range of colorful butterflys i saw but no Monarchs, and it was only for a short amount of time. I see pleny of the white ones, I saw very few bees. i am concerned because these changes are going to affect our world in the future. Educate the masses.

  65. Are the wasps and hornets attacking the beehives and killing the bee? This is something i heard.

  66. Thank you so much for this article. I had no idea of such diversity. I’ll now definitely try to grow more native plants and flowers. Not too sure about eh habitat although I can guess a few holes in stone walls or a pile of wood debris should be a start. If you have any serious reference about it, I would be glad to delve into it!
    I live about 40 min south of New Orleans. Urban setting but plenty of magnificent trees.
    Gratefully
    Dominique Le Bouteiller

  67. I live in the rural Southeast and the predominate species of bees I attract is the bumble bee… They love the hyssop plants that flourish in a small part of my garden and have shown interest in the zinnia….How do I attract a greater variety of bees….We also have a few smaller bees that are very much like honey bees.

  68. Native bees need native plants. Read Doug Tallamy’s book Bringing Nature Home. Plant the things that they depend upon.
    attend the symposium put on by the native plant society…it’s at Foothill College on September 21 , 2019It is about planting for biodiversity
    .address of Foothill College is 12345 Moody Rd. Los Altos Hills, Ca.

  69. Good article. Try focusing on Monsanto or Bayer for polination and suitable habitat for bees and see how far that goes. The diverse structure of plants and bees is upset by chemicals. My property is loaded with acres of wild flowers planted to help support my bees. I wish I had a suitable answer other then the obvious one that no one will follow due to the monitary issues that insue. I raise honey bees and sad to say it is a battle keeping them alive. I do not know of many bees that will produce honey like the inported bees. If you have that information I would be glad to see it. And yes there are other pollinators besides bees but they are by far the best.

  70. Good lesson. Different varieties of bees and the difference between the Honey bees and Native bees. However what is still not clear to me is whether the native bees also produce honey. Another big lesson grasped is about the Pollinators relying on habitat size, habitat connectivity, and plant diversity, said to be key components of conservation success for most other species too, including our own.

  71. I loved this article! I grow herbs veggies and flowers organically in coastal Virginia. I am daily rewarded with visiting bees and all manor of pollinators. I keep a huge fennel plant by my house just so the swallow tail butterflies can leave their caterpillars for the next generation! Everyone can grow a plant to help out our insect friends! They bring joy and health!

  72. Thank you for this great article. I’ll make sure to share this information with others.

  73. Going beyond overly simplistic general reporting is any important task well done here. Besides bumblebees, what other native species are eusocial? Are common yellowjackets and paper wasps invasives too?

  74. The govt protects the spotted owl ,other etc. Why not the bees? It should become a political issue considering how important they are to our food survival.

  75. This is a wonderful synopsis of a fundamental issue. I became aware of native bees only after I started a backyard honeybee hive. As I fell in love with my bees I started photographing them; as I started photographing honeybees, I noticed all manner of other bees in the garden I had planted specifically for bird habitat. And I became a passionate native bee photographer and advocate. Thanks for this great article. https://dukkaqueen.com/a-thousand-bees-2/

  76. I know our pollinator’s have decreased in the last several years. I use to grow huge tomatoes, squash, okra, peppers, eggplants etc. I have almost thrown in the towel. But being a disabled vet. I just don’t know how to give up. I am a paraplegic but I don’t let that stop me. I figure next year on growing I am going to be planting a whole lot of different types of flowers. I know it has to be not planting my zinnia’s, and cosmos. I guess for every couple of plants there will be at least 2-4-1. flowers to veggies.

  77. So I think the bird example should’ve been chickens as Turkeys are at least originally native to North America.

  78. How about some descriptions of bee habitats possibly showing simply constructed hives and resting areas.