When you hear the word “bee”, what do you think of? Most people think honey bee. Did you know most bees don't make honey? And that most bees live in the ground and not in a hive? Did you know honey bees are not very good pollinators and some fruits and vegetables can't even be pollinated by them?
When you hear that bees need to be saved, it's not the honey bees that need help. All those save the bees signs with a picture of a honey bee have it only part right. In fact in the UK, entomologists (people who study insects) are concerned that there may be too many honey bees, since more and more people raise honey bees. Along with habitat loss, competition for food seems to be one of the main factors decreasing the numbers of native bees, in the UK and elsewhere.
Fortunately, we live in an area of the world that still has a great number and diversity of native bees. More than 4000 species of bees live in the United States and Canada and new ones are being discovered all the time. Many are specialists for a certain kind of flower. Despite their diversity, few people know anything about bees, even the bees in their own backyard. Everyone knows that robins nest in trees, that bears hibernate and that butterflies start out as caterpillars, but do you know where bees live, how they spend the winter and what they eat? Most bees nest in a hole in the ground, dug gopher style by a single female bee. Some of the smallest bees in the world are found in North America and measure 0.1 inch, smaller than George Washington's nose on a quarter. At the other extreme is the giant carpenter bee, at just over an inch, about as large as that entire quarter!
In this talk we will discuss elements and practices in your garden and landscape that support the bees in your backyard and why you might want to consider hosting a few mason or leaf-cutter bees, who are native non-stinging, cavity-living super pollinators. Come learn how bees are beneficial to your garden and what you can do to help all the bees!