Sunday, April 8, 2012

Know Your Bees

Bumble Bee- Wikimedia
We read a lot about colony collapse syndrome which affects the common honey bee.  In most minds this overshadows the role of other pollinators.  Solitary bees, bumble bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, moths, etc. all contribute to pollination.  Frequently they are dedicated pollinators, the main or even only source of pollination.

We have previously discussed the role of the yucca moth as the dedicated pollinator of yucca flowers in a 2010 blog.  Last Thursday, we mentioned the role of beetles and flies in pollinating Trillium_sessile  and other plants with maroon-brown flowers which produce the smell of decay to attract their pollinators.

There is a broad spectrum of bees which tend to run together, as we tend to think that a bee is a honey bee unless it is a bumble bee or something dramatically different.  We now have a great resource to help identify other bee species.  Look up this St. Louis Zoo link and scroll down to the Missouri Bee Identification Guide.  You can download a beautiful two page PDF that will help you learn about these creatures.  There is also a guide to bumble bees just above it.

St. Louis Zoo is very involved in conservation efforts such as hellbender restoration we discussed in the past and American burying beetles restoration which is coming up.  This is exciting work which helps to maintain our planet while we go through the growing pains of reaching nine billion humans on a limited chunk floating in the universe.

If you share our interests, you probably have field guides bending your book shelves.  This is very handy on just two pages and goes to the lamination as soon as possible, and won't break your budget or your shelf.  The only thing the guide lacks is how to get that close a look at a bee without experiencing its wrath.  I would welcome your suggestions, but my plan to ask Barb to catch them for me.

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