Bee Happy

I was out walking the other day and I happened to spot lots and lots of bees. It was pretty obvious that the bees were different species: some were a metallic blue, others an iridescent green, and still others a fuzzy yellow and black. The walk got me thinking and made me curious about the many different species of native bees in Florida

A little googling later, I found two fantastic resources – one published by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) and a website associated with the Entomology and Nematology Department at the University of Florida. From these sites I garnered a range of fascinating tidbits: there are over 320 species of bees in Florida and they come from six different families: the Andrenidae; the Apidae; the Colletidae; the Halictidae; the Megachilidae; and the Melittidae. In Florida, bee species tend to be more extensively distributed across the north of the state than the south. Additionally, our bees include both solitary (such as leafcutter bees and mason bees) and social bees (like bumble bees).

Bees require a number of conditions to thrive. Several of these conditions are easily incorporated into a living landscape. Simply:

  1. Plant vegetation to support nesting bees. Examples include Dune sunflower (Helianthus debilis), Elderberry (Sambucus nigra), or other hollow- or pithy-stemmed plants.
  1. Include multiple species of native flowers that bloom simultaneously to provide both nectar and pollen. Great examples include Goldenrods (Solidago spp.); Asters (Symphyotrichum spp.); Spanish needles (Bidens alba); Spotted bee balm (Monarda punchata); and Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa). (Because different bee species have different tongue lengths, they favor different types of flowers: those with shorter tongues (like sweat bees and leafcutter bees) prefer flat-topped flowers. Those with longer tongues (like bumblebees) prefer tubular flowers. Incorporate a range of both and see true bee diversity!)
  1. Protect these lovely pollinators from pesticides.

Finally, Bee Happy. Incorporate these techniques and know that you’re helping to #NurtureNative.