Image above: two cute bees on spring flowers

In states around the US, the buzz is that native bees are all over the place now that spring is upon us.

As bees sip nectar and go about the daily business of pollinating plants and collecting pollen for the hive, you may notice that just like people, bees come in many different sizes, shapes, stripes and colors. There is great diversity in native bees. And not all of them sting, either.

Here’s a magical story… the spring beauty bee is a solitary, ground nesting bee. She has a flower faithful bond with the common little pink and white petaled wildflower known as spring beauty, which blooms in spring. Spring beauty bee’s larvae feed exclusively on this dainty flower’s pink pollen, in other words, they are nourished by pink brood food.

Wikipedia identifies spring beauties as mining bees, or Andrena erigeniae. This North American species of mining bee is in the family Andrenidae.

New adult male and female spring beauty bees emerge each spring at around the same time as each other. The females only seem to forage between the hours of 10 am to 2 pm daily, but they don’t work on rainy days. Mating is said to take place in a romantic interlude on the spring beauty flowers. All wining and dining take place on the nectar and pollen of the spring beauty flowers as well. These sweet flowers are everything to spring beauty bees.

In this 4:04-minute long video you see these spring beauty flowers and bees.

Did you know that around 4,000 bee species are natives of the USA? In Georgia alone you’ll find over 500 of these species, including carpenter bees and bumble bees. Not so the honeybee, though, a non-native that was imported along with early settlers from Europe.

There are bumblebees, carpenter bees, sweat bees, squash bees, mason bees, leaf-cutter bees, mining bees, blueberry bees, and countless others. Every one of them looks different to the others. Some, like bumblebees, are very social while others, like the carpenter bee, is solitary.

Bees pollinate every third bite of food we humans eat. Such diversity of bee species is welcome since most native bees pollinate vegetables, fruits and nuts. Not to mention the dazzling array of native wildflowers that burst forth every spring. It breaks down to about 80% of the bees being generalists, which means they enjoy diversity of flora and plants, while about 20% are loyal to one or two species of plants, or flower faithful, and rely on them for sustenance. Like spring beauty bee and spring beauty wildflowers with their precious pink pollen.  

Watching bees as they make a beeline to the brightest and most brilliantly colored flower blossoms in your garden or at the park can BEE a form of meditation, like taking a few minutes ‘out of time’ for serenity to settle in.

About the spring beauty bees and wildflowers... have you seen these bees in your part of the world? They live in the eastern half of the USA and Canada. If you have any stories or photos, please share them with us over on our Facebook page. 

Spring is here... go into your garden and welcome the bees!