The Life of a Solitary Bee

The Life of a Solitary Bee

Bee species’ behavior has fascinated humans for eternity. Throughout the world, we watch them buzzing from flower to flower, collecting pollen. From classical songs to company logos and home décor, we have honored their existence. It’s easy for many of us as casual observers to believe that we understand them, but the bee world is more fascinating than we realize.

There are up to 4,000 native bee species in the United States, according to the U.S. Geological Society. Yet, the average person is likely more familiar with the (non-native) honeybee who goes back to the hive buzzing with life with a queen, her workers, and her mates.

Our general understanding of bees is not the full truth. During a recent webinar from our What’s Buzzing in Texas? webinar series, Dr. Jessica Beckham from the University of Texas, San Antonio, explains that hive-oriented or “social” bees like honey bees or bumblebees are the exception in the bee world. Most bee species lead solitary lives.

Solitary bees make up about 98% of the native bee species in the United States, according to the University of Minnesota Bee Lab website. With thousands of species, it’s not surprising that these solitary bees come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors.

They exhibit a variety of different behaviors, too. For all the differences, the one trait all these species have in common is that they live alone.

Lead Image: Green metallic sweat bee. Credit: NPS.

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