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Garden Allies: Bees II (Solitary to Social)

Articles: Garden Allies: Bees II (Solitary to Social)

Bumble bee (Bombus) in nest. Illus: Craig Latker

Bees: From Solitary to Social

Strolling through my garden early in the morning, dew heavy on the flowers, I sometimes pause to gently pet a velvety, sleeping bumble bee. Although it may seem a strange activity, for me it embodies the ephemeral magic of the garden at dawn. I can safely pet the slumbering bumble bee because of an unusual behavior found in some members of the Apidae family of bees: males may sleep on vegetation (sometimes in aggregations), clasping stems or petals with their mandibles and spending the night at rest. Bumble bees are a common group in the Apidae, along with squash bees, long-horned bees, carpenter bees, honey bees, and several lesser known groups. Apidae have the broadest range of social behaviors of any bee family, exhibiting the full gamut from solitary to highly eusocial. They are closely followed in social diversity by the Halictidae. Families that are exclusively or principally solitary were covered a year ago click here to see Garden Allies, April 2010; honey bees are covered in April 2012.

Sociality

Eusocial bees exh...

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