The Buzz on Bees

BY JULIE YOUMANS
PHOTO CREDITS: JULIE YOUMANS

Worldwide bee populations are declining. Albert Einstein once warned that should honeybees disappear, so would our global food supply. “No more bees … no more men,” he said. Habitat loss, pesticides, mites, and pollution contribute to the diminishing numbers of bees.

6 bits on bees

  • In Missouri there are 450 different bee species; 4,000 throughout the United States.
  • Bombus – is the genus of the classic, rotund, yellow and black furry bumble bees. Many Missouri bees are small in size and dark in color and mistakenly identified as flies.
  • 80 – 90% of bee species are solitary as opposed to colonial. This means they provision the nest with a grain or pollen and perhaps nectar, lay eggs, then leave. (Pollen is a source of protein for bees)
  • Most bees travel only 1/3 to 1 mile for their food. Shorter trips may be safer and more energy efficient.
  • Bees visit 50 – 1,000 plants a day
  • Bees’ unique pollen transport system involves filling sacs called pollen baskets usually attached to their hind legs. Pollen gets stuck in their fur-like hair. The middle pair of legs pushes the pollen backward, compacts it, and directs it into the pollen sacks on the last pair of back legs. Look carefully at bees to see the baskets swelling with pollen on their hind legs.

See Julie’s Photo Album on Bees (5 photos)

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