Some 4,000-5,000 species of bees are native to the United States (with around 500 of those residing in Illinois) and their habitat is disappearing quickly. Needless to say, we’re not cool with that.
When you think of bees, it’s a safe bet you see honeybees swarming over the outside of a hive. Videos from elementary school showing them performing their intricate dances to indicate sources of pollen, direction and distance. Perhaps a bumblebee or two.
But these simplistic images of pollinators held by most Americans – and others around the world – are problematic. Not only are they limited in the extreme, but they lend the impression that all bees are social creatures.
The reality is far more complicated. While honeybees and bumblebees are certainly social, most bees are actually solitary. That means aside from mating, they live, eat and sleep alone.
(And not in a sad way. They’re making a choice, okay??)
Even more problematic: Because we fail to recognize the importance of native solitary bees, we don’t do much to accommodate their habitats (many of which are in steady decline). And if we want to keep enjoying, you know, food … then that needs to change. It’s time to learn how to create nesting habitat for native pollinators.