Wild Native Bees Need Help Too
Honeybees get a lot of coverage, and rightly so, when it comes to the many problems they face and the devastating losses due to colony collapse disorder.
Wild native bees often just fade into the shadows and are forgotten by most people. Sometimes this is because they are not organized and living in colonies. They are more solitary in nature, so you only tend to see a few at a time, if any.
Lesser known native bees are vital pollinators for plants. They are severely impacted by many of the same problems facing honeybees: lack of nectar and pollen producing flowers, monocultures, toxic pesticides and unpredictable climate change.
This is a fun and informative 3:03-minute video about Honeybees v/s Native Pollinators, and includes wild bees in Texas:
Once wild bees emerge in spring, make sure to always have enough fresh water in your garden. These busy bees work hard and get as thirsty as we do. If there is fresh water, they won’t have to drink from dirty mud puddles, chlorinated pools, or water contaminated with chemicals that may have gathered in buckets and other containers.
There is so much we don’t know about wild native bees. There are many more wild bees than honeybees, and very few bee species even make honey. There are 4,5o0 native bee species in the USA, that are just as busy as honeybees when it comes to pollinating plants. They don’t produce honey for humans, but they are a vital part of our ecosystem.
The European honeybee are sold to countries all over the world. This domesticated species was imported into the USA to pollinate crops. In 2017 alone, these bees produced almost 150 million pounds of honey. When honeybees die, beekeepers import new ones and set up new colonies where abundant brood production is constant. Native bees, on the other hand, are harder—if not impossible—to replace.
So, whichever type of bee is threatened, it is of equal importance to our ecosystem. The health of wild native bees is just as important as that of our honeybees. Prairies that were once abundant with native wildflowers are in decline in many parts of the world, and the native bees are suffering as a result of less diverse flowers for foraging.
Most native bees like to nest in the ground. Some gardens boast ‘bee hotels’ as a welcoming and inviting place for bees to nest, but this is unnecessary. If you invest in one, make sure to clean it thoroughly so it doesn’t harbor diseases that will harm next year’s bee residents.
Help native bees thrive by planting native flowers and refraining from using pesticides or insecticides. Leave plant stems, fallen leaves and dry debris in your garden so wild bees can use it as habitat, but remove invasive plants.
Create a supportive environment in your garden for the wild native bees that call it home, and always support organic farmers when you shop, since they eliminate harmful pesticides.
The best thing you can do for local bees is to go into your garden and see what you can figure out about them. Plant some flowers, pour some water, and see which species show up. Take photos and go to your library or a nursery to learn more.
Take joy from the buzzing bees that grace you with their presence, it is a rare and rewarding gift.
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