When most people think of bees, they immediately imagine a hive full of honey bees, and strong social instinct. However, most NYC bees are different. They reject “society” for a solitary life and don’t care too much about how sophisticated their home is – a hole in the ground or a hollow tube work just fine. Found in the countryside as well as in major cities, these bees fly under the radar, literally.
Because of their less glamorous “lifestyle,” wild bees are often neglected, and that is quite a shame, given that over 4,000 species are living in North America alone. About 10% of them can be found in the New York State, signaling an impressive potential for researchers and bee enthusiasts alike.#NY is home to over 400 #bee species! Click To Tweet
Understanding these beautiful insects starts with getting to know their life cycle. While honeybees rely on a single female for laying eggs (the queen), native bees are all allowed to pass their genes down to the next generation. Most native NYC bees live just a year, during which their sole focus is to mate. Each female can lay between 6 and 12 eggs, which she tucks in a narrow cavity together with enough nectar and pollen to feed to larva until it reaches adulthood and can venture in the outside world. Because it is self-reliant, the female won’t engage potential enemies and won’t sting unless stepped on or squeezed. Solitary NYC bees are often ignored especially because they are docile and their interaction with humans rarely gets painful. They are also kept in the shadow for not producing large quantities of honey and wax, nor do they display a complex behavior worth studying.
Native bees are essential to the economy of the ecosystem because they are one of nature’s most efficient pollinators. Equipped with unique “baskets” on their legs and abdomen, they spread pollen from flower to flower while collecting for their own needs. Once back to their home inside the ground/tree, they deposit the treasure for the larva to have. Throughout the spring and summer months, and sometimes even during early autumn, wild NYC bees work themselves to exhaustion to make sure their offspring have enough food to grow strong.#Masonbees and #leafcutterbees are just two of the many #NYC native bees out there! Click To Tweet
Documenting their diversity is a crucial part of making sure that the pollinator population remains healthy and stable in the future. Differentiating between species that are native or non-native, as well as identifying those that are declining is vital for any bee enthusiast concerned about the future. However, things are far from being clear when it comes to what is right or not for the population of NYC native bees. For example, studies have revealed that non-native species make up to 25% of the total in the area of New York City. It is still a mystery whether they negatively affect the native population through increased competition for suitable nesting sites and pollen resources.
Some native bee species stand apart as having surprising features and adaptations.