Why We Need Bees

There are nearly 20,000 known bee species in the world, and 4,000 of them are native to the United States (an estimated 400 additional native bee species remain to be identified in the U.S.). From the tiny and solitary Perdita minima, known as the world’s smallest bee, to the large carpenter bee, to the brilliant blue of the mason bee; native bees come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors.

Native bees pollinate native plants like cherries, blueberries, and cranberries, and were here long before European honeybees were brought to the country by settlers (honeybees are not native to North America). Honeybees, of course, are well known for pollinating almond and lemon trees, okra, papaya and watermelon plants. But native bees like the blue orchard bees are better and more efficient pollinators of native crops. Native bees are estimated to pollinate 80 percent of flowering plants around the world.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), bees of all sorts pollinate approximately 75 percent of the fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in the United States, and one out of every four bites of food people take is courtesy of bee pollination. In sum, bee pollination is responsible for more than $15 billion in increased crop value each year.


Ceratina smaragdula, male, and introduced bee, Hawaii, Oahu, March 2012(Public domain.)

Osmia aglaia, f, face, Mariposa CA

More brilliant greens, blues, and purples from the metallic mason bees of western North America. This one (O. aglaia) comes from Yosemite National Park , where Claire Kremen's group has been looking at post burn bee communities in areas of chronic burns. Photograph by Anders Croft.(Credit: Anders Croft. Public domain.)

And now....Ceratina from Asia! Vietnam to be exact. The overall shape and aspect of Ceratinaness remains but what lovely facial colors or maculations as the old literature calls them. A betting person would use the patterns of past specimens to guess that the female will have fewer maculations, but the stripe running down the center of the clypeus will remain. From the depths of the Packer Lab at York University.(Public domain.)


Monarda didyma 2, Beebalm, Howard County, MD, Helen Lowe Metzman(Credit: Sam Droege, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Public domain.)
Phidippus clarus, U, Face Redo, PG County

Phidippus clarus, Beltsville, Maryland, thanks to Charlie Davis for determination(Public domain.)

Velvet Ant, F, Face, Hot Springs Village, AR

More Velvet Ant pictures...who wouldn't want more shots of this Badass Cowkiller? This one from Arkansas sent live in the mail by our correspondent FT. Its good to have such friends. Photos by Wayne Boo.(Credit: Wayne Boo. Public domain.)