Popular Types of Bees Found in North America

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You will find many different opinions when it comes to a person’s feelings towards bees and wasps. Most people would tell you they love the adorable little bumblebee but don’t have that same love when it comes to wasps or hornets.

It is normal to love the bee, what’s not to love? The bee makes sweet honey that people just can’t seem to get enough of, and we find beeswax in many products like candles, lotions and more. Wasps, on the other hand, seem to just be assholes that swarm, annoy and possibly sting us! They are the ones flying around you at a picnic and landing on your drink! It is safe to say wasps are jerks but, they also play a very important role in our eco-system as well. Some wasps will pollinate the crops on farmers fields, and they are nature’s pest control by eating insects and pests that can cause significate crop damage when the insects invade farm fields. Wasps are also fine little wine makers and play a crucial role the reproduction of figs.

In this article, I would like to provide an introduction to four types of bees and answer the question “what do bees do?” Seeing as there are over 20,000 species of the beloved bee, this article will not cover all of them but just 4 common types you may see daily in the summer months.

Power in Numbers:

Did you know the different types of species bee and wasps account for, is higher than all mammals and birds combined!

The Honeybee

The european or western honey bee

A single queen will lead a colony of honeybees. These are social bees and can live in a large colony of around 50,000 honeybees. Every honeybee will have a predefined duty or role within the colony with the drones pulling the short end of the stick. Drone honeybees are male and do get to mate with the queen but will die quickly afterwards. A single colony can have hundreds of drones.

The bulk of the colony will consist of worker bees that are the female bees. These hardworking ladies will take care of the larvae from eggs to infant bees all while keeping the hive clean and tidy. The workers also play a vital role in building the hive as well. The female workers will secrete wax from their bodies and this wax will be used in the construction of the delicious honeycomb!

The Bumblebee

Bumblebees are earth’s little helper and play a vital role in agriculture.

The little bee that defies the rules of flight. These little bees really shouldn’t be able to fly, but they do. The bumblebee must warm their muscles before they can fly. It’s the warming of these muscles to almost 90-degree Fahrenheit, that creates that buzzing sound we hear when a bumblebee is close by.

Bumblebees, like honeybees, are governed by a queen bee, and no, I don’t mean Beyoncé! Bumblebees are social bees as well, but their colonies are much smaller than the honeybee’s colony. At a mere 40 to 400 bees, these guys still get the job done. The queen bee will start a new nest every year after her hibernation ends and the cycle will continue again.

Bumblebees are earth’s little helper and play a vital role in agriculture. Plants rely on the bumblebees for pollination and the bees eat the pollen and nectar found in flowers. As humanity’s population grows, and their use of chemicals and pesticides increases, the bumblebee losses more of its natural habit, it jeopardizes the balance of the ecosystem and the plants that rely on bumblebees to survive.

The Carpenter Bee

Xylocopa violacea, the violet carpenter bee
A violet carpenter bee sits on a purple flower

The carpenter bee generally lives alone….in the woods….and surprise, surprise is considered a solitary bee. Carpenter bees will build their nest close to one another but prefer their own space and don’t like anyone else up in their grill, if you know what I mean. The carpenter bee just tunnels away, in the forests, making nests looking to lay eggs and help create another generation of carpenter bees.

The carpenter bee does like a little interior design though and will chew the wood fibres to create an almost paste that the bee will line the walls of their tunnel. Scientist have been unable to prove if the carpenter bee knows how to build shelving units or hang kitchen cabinets.

The Leafcutter Bee

A leafcutter bee
A Leafcutter bee will use her mandibles and cut away pieces of leaves.

We rarely hear from the leafcutter bee and doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves for being an excellent plant-pollinator and mother for that matter. For each offspring a leafcutter bee has, a special bed is made. A leafcutter bee will use her mandibles and cut away pieces of leaves that are brought back to the nest and rolled up. In these small pieces of rolled up leaves, an egg is laid and food in the form of pollen is added and stored inside the leaf. The finished product looks very much like a little green sleeping bag, so when the egg hatches the larvae has everything it will need to survive and grow until it can fend for itself.

The leafcutter bee has a very short lifespan of approximate two-months, but during that time can lay up to 40 eggs.

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