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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Methods for Raising, Capturing, and Using Bees

Have you ever, on a hot summer day, or maybe early in the Spring, stopped for a moment to watch the flowers and the insects visiting them?  You might wonder, "Are these bees?  They don't exactly look like bees to me!"

Perhaps another time, you are in a garden or on a ranch and notice similar insects coming in and out of small holes in the ground, or emerging from small holes in the side of our house or barn.  Looking closely again, you might notice these insects (some might be very large, others very, very small) with bright yellow or orange pollen on their legs or hind end.  Again you ask, "What are these insects?  Are they bees?  What are they doing?  How do they know where to find pollen?  How do they find their way back to their little holes?  What is down inside that hole?  What happens to these insects in the Winter when it gets too cold to fly and find flowers?  Are these insects good or bad for my garden or farm?  And do they ever get sick?"

These are the kinds of questions we seek to answer at the Pollinating Insects Research Unit.  Did you know there are more different kinds (different species) of bees than all of the mammals, lizards, frogs, and birds put together?  Most of these bees do not form large family colonies, like honey bees do.  The majority are what we call solitary, living alone and where every female is "queen".  These wild bees do not produce honey, so sometimes they are called "pollen bees", as they are very important for plant pollination.

To find out more about how to attract these bees, provide nesting sites for them, garden for them, or use them for pollinating crops, check out the "How To" links under Related Topics at the left of this page.

 

Nesting shelters for Osmia Bees Ozone fumigation system for disinfecting hives

Alfalfa leafcutting bees treated with fungicide to control chalkbrood Alfalfa leafcutting bee nesting shelters

Last Modified: 1/14/2014
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