Common Bees in Michigan Julianna Tuell, Rufus Isaacs Anna Fiedler, Doug Landis Department of Entomology, Michigan State University
Why Are Bees Important? • Pollination in natural habitats • 80% of flowering plants require insects to transfer pollen in order to produce seeds. • Many insect-pollinated plants provide food for wildlife (e.g. berries).
Why Are Bees Important? • Pollination of 87 leading food and fiber crops
Major Bee Groups in the Eastern US • honey bees • bumble bees • carpenter bees • mason and leafcutter bees • sweat bees • digger bees honey bee bumble bee leafcutter bee carpenter bee sweat bee digger bee
Honey bees (Apidae) • Native to Europe. • First used for honey and wax production. • Now most important bee in crop pollination because they are readily managed. • Feral colonies have been decimated by diseases and mites. • Commercial beekeepers also have a difficult time with diseases and mites. • Not the most efficient pollinator of every crop. • Can be inhibited by cooler weather. • Fortunately, many other kinds of bees can help pollinate crops. Apis mellifera
Bumble bees (Apidae) • Medium (workers and drones) to large (queens) yellow or white and black. • A single queen produces a colony of workers. • Nest in abandoned rodent burrows or other cavities in the ground. • Commercially produced colonies now available. • Feed on many different flowers. Bombus spp.
Carpenter bees (Apidae) • Two distinct types: • large (often mistaken for bumble bee queens). • Small (metallic blue). • Most females are solitary, building and provisioning their own nests (no workers are produced). • Nest in wood or pithy stems. • Feed on many different flowers. Xylocopa virginiana Ceratina sp. Photo: J. Evans
Mason bees (Megachilidae) • Small to medium, bluish metallic or black with white hair on thorax, with dense abdominal hairs for carrying pollen. • Solitary, but often nesting in aggregations. • In nature, nesting in galleries made by beetles in wood or pithy stems; will readily nest in man-made straws. • Separate and cap off nest cells with mud. Osmia lignaria Orchard Mason Bee Photo: S. Bambara
Leafcutter bees (Megachilidae) • Medium, black, often with a striped abdomen on which they collect pollen. • Solitary, nesting in aggregations. • Nest in galleries made by beetles in wood or pithy stems; will readily nest in man-made straws. • Cut leaf sections from soft-leafed plants to make nests. leaf capsule in hollowed twig Megachile spp.
Digger bees (Andrenidae and Apidae) • Small to large bees with very hairy hind legs. • Solitary, nest in soil. • Usually one generation produced per season. • May visit many different flowers, or will collect pollen from only a few related plant species. Andrena spp.
Sweat bees (Halictidae) • Three size/color groups: • Medium-sized, brown, with or without stripes • Small to medium, metallic green • Small bronze/golden metallic • Solitary and social species. • Some produce several generations per season. • Most nest in soil; some in soft wood. • Visit many different flowers. Lasioglossum sp. Halictus sp. Agapostemon spp.
What do native bees need? • flowers for nectar and pollen • nesting habitat • pesticide-free environment
Flowering Resources • nectar, floral oils • pollen
Nesting Resources nest entrance in soil nest made in sloping soil nest made in burrow nesting box constructed for cavity nesting bees holes in a tree that could be used by bees
Access to Clean Water • ponds • bird baths • ditches
Bee-friendly Practices • Provide floral resources. • Provide nesting resources. • Provide clean water source. • Reduce insecticide use. • Use bee-safe insecticides if pest control is necessary. • Minimize use of herbicides.
Acknowledgements For more information visit: www.nativeplants.msu.edu Funding sources: