Dr. Becki Lynch, Bloom and Grow Garden Society
All about Bees – This will take two sessions – first our most recognizable and popular/hated bees, and next time some of our smaller, yet important bees.
*Florida has 315 native bee species (29 of those species are only found in Florida) with 5 non-native bee species.
*Florida has one-fifth of all the managed Honey bee hives in America.
*There are presently over 4,000 registered beekeepers in Florida, with approximately 600,000 bees. Just a decade ago, the number was only 600 beekeepers with 100,000 bees.
Honey Bees (Apis spp.)
*The Honey Bee is not native, but was brought to America in the 1600’s from Europe because they can be managed through the queen -- specifically for pollination of crops.
*Honey Bees are responsible for 75% of the pollinated crops in Florida.
*The Honey Bee is, drum roll please, the only bee that makes commercial honey.
*All Honey Bees can sting, but will sting only in defense of themselves or the colony.
Once it stings, the bee dies.
*The Honey Bee is slim and sleek, a brown/gold color, with hairs to pick up pollen over the top portion of it’s body.
*While the queen can live years, worker bees live only 4 – 6 weeks.
Bumble Bees (Bombus spp.)
*We have 5 species of native Bumble Bees here in Florida -- common eastern (Bombus impatiens), two-spotted (B. bimaculatus), brown-belted (B. griseocollis), American (B. pennsylvanicus) and southern plains (B. fraternus) – they are not found in southern Florida at all.
*Bumble Bees are considered the “Panda” of the bee world. Very laid back and docile. Although they can sting, they normally ignore humans if not threatened.
*Bumble Bees have a queen, and are social, but do not form hives of 80,000, or survive past one season. They usually number less than 500 in a single nest/hive.
*They nest in bare ground, leaf litter and old dens of other animals.
*They are better pollinators than honey bees as they reliably go to the same type of plant over and over.
*They are usually the first ones out in the morning, and the last to go to sleep – nothing cuter than a bumble sleeping in a flower.
*They are the best at collecting pollen, as they are hairy from head to toe, even on the abdomen AND eyes.
*The queen lives up to a year, producing the next season of workers and new queen, while the workers live only about a month.
Carpenter Bees (Xylocopa spp.)
*Carpenter Bees look very similar to a bumble bee and are often mistaken for them although they are slightly smaller and have a spot on their back rather than a band.
*They forage in straight fly lines, while bumbles meander all around.
*A major difference is that the Carpenter is a solitary bee and nests in damaged or dead wood. This is the reason Carpenter Bees can be considered a pest as they will hang around your house eaves and shutters. However, the bees do not cause integral structural damage to a house, only to the aesthetics.
*This bee does not have hair on its abdomen, which is shiny and black.
*Only female carpenter bees can sting, and they normally do not as it harms their
* Carpenter Bees are one of the longest living bees -- up to 3 years.
Heard enough about bees? Just one more session on those tiny/small bees that we hardly notice, but are so important to the pollination occurring in our own yards. They are the ones that are our “family” as they never leave our space. Stay tuned --