So it’s no surprise that whenever I tell people that I study bees, people instantly assume that I am referring to the European honey bee, which are commercially transported in hives, live in colonies with a single queen, and makes honey. As a matter of fact, most people assume that honeybees are the only kind of bees.
What if I were to tell you that there are more than 20,000 species of bees in the world, 3,500 species in North America (north of Mexico), and 1,600 species in the state of California alone?
Instead of living in hives, these bees live in a multitude of secret places. Inside hollow stems of plants, in tunnels underground, even inside of abandoned snail shells, bees build nests in which they care for their young. Although they don’t make honey and they often live alone, these bees are still important pollinators of both agricultural crops, as well as being integral members to naturally occurring plant communities.
I am a first year PhD student, and for my research I will be working with ground nesting bees, or bees that build their nests underground. As I snap photos in the field (my “office”) and think about my research plans, I would like to share some of my thoughts with you, the blogosphere. I hope that, in the process, my love of The Lives of Other Bees will rub off on the passerby.
A quick sidebar: the title of my blog is Diadasia, which happens to be one of my favorite bee genera. However, the header photo of this blog is of a different genus, Halictus. This is because I am but an amateur photographer, and Diadasia tend to be much faster moving than Halictus.
Dr. Robbin Thorp of UC Davis has taken some lovely photographs of ground nests, which can be viewed on his website.
For those of you interested in learning more about bee behavior and biology, I highly recommend Christopher O’Toole and Anthony Raw’s book Bees of the World (1999). It is interesting, well-written and contains some lovely illustrations. Ironically, the cover photo on the most recent addition is a fly, not a bee, but I blame the publisher for that…
Ballmer, Greg. 1995. Sidebar: Nation’s Richest Insect Diversity in California. California Agriculture 49(6): 51-52.