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I’ve heard a lot of buzz lately about the decline in the bee population in the U.S. which is making it difficult for farmers to get their crops pollinated and plants to grow. Bees transfer pollen from plant to plant with their wings, legs and other body parts when they forage for nectar and pollen which is their food source and in the process move pollen between crops and plants which is necessary for plants to reproduce and grow.
Bees have been declining in numbers because their habitat has also been declining with a rapidly developing landscape and declining quality of air due to pollution. Bees need large areas to forage for nectar and pollen. Honey Bees which are also important pollinators of plants and a source of natural honey for us have been declining because of the spread of diseases and the harmful effect of mites.
Bumble Bees and Honey Bees differ in shape, size and type of nest they live in. According to the Bumble Bee Conservation Organization, bumble bees can be identified by their color, size and place where they live. Bumble Bees live in the wild in nests of 50 to 400 bees. Honey Bees live in hives consisting of 50,000 to 60,000 bees. They are both important sources of pollinators of plants and food crops. I was therefore happy to see this little guy getting nectar and pollen from a yellow wildflower in a nearby park. County agricultural offices are holding classes for people interested in starting their own Honey Bee hives. You can learn more about bees at the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forestry Service. I also liked the Insect About.com website which gives a concise summary of the differences between Bumble Bees and Honey Bees.