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11 Jun

 

I am writing this week about bee’s in general.  My hope is that you will have a better understanding of the type of bees that should be left alone to do the work for which they were created. 

The Honey Bee used to be the most common visitor to home gardens.  This fuzzy bee is an excellent all around pollinator. They are one of the most beneficial insects on the planet and their role in pollination is vital to many varieties of fruits and vegetables.  Their presence however has drastically declined due to Colony Collapse Disorder. 

Bumble Bees are most often seen flitting about flowers. They are one of the most important pollinator’s due to their ‘fuzzy all over’ body. They go about their business of gathering nectar to make honey. They are not particularly aggressive and are much more interested in choosing the next flower on which to collect pollen than on you. However, they will quickly defend their nest and will not hesitate to sting if they feel threatened.

Carpenter Bees are often mistaken for Bumble Bees but are easily recognized by their shiny black butt instead of a fuzzy gold-brown butt. They bore into wood to make their nests but still they are valuable pollinators by lighting on and collecting pollen from many springtime flowers.  Drone Carpenter Bees are identified by the white spot on their head. They are very inquisitive and like to check out anything in their territory but are not aggressive about it. They cannot sting and merely enjoy playing a friendly buzzzzzz game! They are known as ‘gentle, giant pollinators’ and are good for children to learn that they need not be afraid of most bees.

On the other hand are Yellow Jackets, easily recognizable by their black and yellow stripes. Yellow jackets don’t visit flowers much; they mostly catch other insects. When they do visit flowers, they only accomplish a little pollination, because they aren’t fuzzy. These are the uninvited guests that show up at family picnics or backyard barbeques crawling in beer or soda cans, kissing their victim with their stinger while on the way out.

Ground Bees are a type of Yellow Jacket but much smaller. They enjoy chasing people around the yard especially when their nests have been disturbed by an innocent and unsuspecting gardener. They build hives two inches to two feet underground and can become easily agitated.

Descriptive and colorful photos of each bee can be found on the internet.  It’s wise to be able to identify the bee that might be bothering you so that you can react accordingly.  Swatting them or at them is not always the best thing to do.  Many of them are just buzzing about, doing their job! 

 


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