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What About Honey Bees?


You’ve probably heard about colony collapse disorder and “Save the bees!”, but did you know that honey bees are not native to North America and have been in California for less than 200 years? The honey bee (Apis mellifera) is native to Africa, Europe, and western Asia, and was brought to California by settlers for the purpose of honey and beeswax production. Honey bee pollination became a major resource in agriculture surprisingly late; before the growth of pollination services as a beekeeping industry, pollination services were primarily provided by wild bees throughout California.

Even though honey bees are an introduced species in Southern California, they make up the bulk of visits to both ornamental and native plants, up to 90% of all visitors to some plant species. This is true even in wild landscapes where no managed hives exist for miles. Scientists are not sure why this is the case, but this is a higher proportion of honey bees visiting Southern California plants than almost anywhere else, including many places in their home range.


So when you’re choosing plants to support pollinators, make sure that you think about other species besides just honey bees! To learn more about our native pollinators in San Diego County, visit “20 Common Urban Pollinators.”