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The Importance of Native Bees

Updated: Jan 28, 2023

Bees are an important part of our natural environment because simpy put, they pollinate our plants.

Bees can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Wherever there are insect-pollinated flowering plants, forest, farms, cities and wildlands, there are bees.

There are close to 20,000 known bee species in the world, and 4,000 of them are native to the United States. 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, all serving as pollinators.

Bees - Our Ecosystem Service Provider

Native bees are estimated to pollinate 80 percent of flowering plants around the world. And very few of them sting – really! According to the 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.

Colony Collapse Disorder

Preventing continued losses of our country’s pollinators requires national attention to promote the health of honey bees and other pollinators, including native bees, birds, bats, butterflies, and other insects.

Fortunately, colony collapse disorder does not affect native bees, though some native bees and other pollinators are experiencing population declines and range reductions. Native bee species are being affected by at least some of the same factors affecting honeybees such as habitat loss and fragmentation as well as the use of pesticides.

Helping Native Bees

To increase or improve habitat for native bees, plant diverse native plants that bloom at various times during the year to increase the diverse community of native bee species. Avoid use of pesticides and provide a source of pesticide-free water, and mud, which is used as a nesting material by some bee species. You can also provide nesting habitat for native bees by rototilling a bare spot in the lawn or garden for soil-nesting bees, leaving standing dead trees, which also provide housing for native bees, or building a bee house.

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