We need to save the (weird) bees

Mason bees don't look like your typical cartoon honeybee (Photo: Joseph Wilson)

Mason bees don’t look like your typical cartoon honeybee (Photo: Joseph Wilson)

Biologist Joseph Wilson thinks that bees have an image problem — and he wants to correct it. We all know about the honey bee and the bumble bee, he says in a talk at TEDxUSU, but when it comes to “saving the bees,” we forget about the other 95% of the species. And if we really want to save the bees (and our favorite crops) he says, we have to get to know all of the bees first.

There are 4,000 native bee species in the United States alone, and these bees have their own preferences, habits, diets and needs, Wilson says. There are ground nesting bees; leafcutter bees; bees that prefer blueberries; bees that dine on squash; bees that are bright blue and those that are bright green. Some bees shake pollen free from flowers (buzz pollination/sonication); others collect pollen on their hair and bodies.

A sweat bee (Photo: Tom/Flickr)

A sweat bee (Photo: Tom/Flickr)

Each plant requires a different sort of pollination, and each bee requires a different sort of plant. Wilson asks that you get to know your local bee species — so that all the bees can be saved (not just the ones making honey).

Watch his whole talk below:

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