Monday, July 11, 2011


Since I have been posting mostly native bees so far this summer, here is one nonnative bee that should be instantly recognizable: a honeybee. Honeybees were first brought to North America by European colonists who wanted hives to produce honey and wax. Since then they have become an important pollinator of food crops. Unlike a lot of native bees, honeybees are fully social and workers are loyal to their hives, which makes it easy for agricultural operations to set up or rent hives to provide pollination services at the key times of year.

One thing I realized recently was how strange honeybees look to me now that I have been paying closer attention to native bees. I am not sure if this is because of their large size (relative to many other bees), very hairy faces, or long and cylindrical abdomens. It probably is a combination of all three.

The flowers it is visiting are purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea). In addition to their aesthetic appeal, coneflowers provide food to a variety of wild animals, from pollinators like bees to seed eaters like finches.