A new type of bee is buzzing through California’s orchards. And researchers are hoping that the iridescent, greenish insect may help provide a more efficient way to pollinate nuts and fruits in an era when traditional honeybees have struggled.
Unlike honeybees, blue orchard bees don’t sting humans. And instead of building large colonies with thousands of worker bees caring for eggs laid by a queen bee, female blue orchard bees work alone to build their nests and stock them with food. They’re solitary bees, like most of the 4,000 species of bees in North America.
And though they don’t reproduce as quickly as honey bees, fewer female orchard bees are needed per acre for orchard pollination. In this Deep Look video, we can see how they lay their eggs in long thin tubes packed in a pattern of mud partitions, pollen provisions, and individual eggs. It’s a ‘bee-jeweled’ nest of about eight eggs per six-inch tube, sealed with a final bit of mud to keep them protected until spring.
To explore pollinating with solitary bees, check out MasonBeesForSale.com. They sell seasonal mason and leafcutter bee tubes and supplies, and have some good starter FAQs. We also recently bought the Mason Bee Management System House. It has an overhanging roof to protect the openings and deconstructable trays to clean the holes off-season.the first 21 days of a bee’s life, a time lapse in 64 seconds, Meet the Natives: Can wild bees also pollinate our plants & crops? and This Is Not A Bee.