Bees of Michigan
The Bees of Michigan
Lasioglossum pectorale by Jason Gibbs
Bees are the most important animal pollinators of agricultural crops and wildflowers. This pollination service makes bees crucial for our food supply and for our ecosystems. But who exactly are our bees?
Strictly speaking, bees are vegetarian wasps. Most wasps are predators or are parasites on other insects and animals, but bees have evolved to get all of their protein from pollen. As a result, bees are dependent on flowers, and flowering plants have come to rely heavily on bees for pollination.
When we think of bees, most people think of the European Honey Bee (Apis mellifera). Honey bees are our primary means of managing crop pollination, they are only one species. Wild bees are also beneficial pollinators of crops and are the most important pollinators of wildflowers.
There are more than 450 kinds of bees in Michigan, 3600 types of bees in the USA, and 20,000 bee species around the world!
Andrena hippotes on strawberry by Jason Gibbs.
This site is dedicated to the diversity of all bees occurring in Michigan, from the biggest bumble bee to the tiniest sweat bee (yes! some bees drink sweat!). Wild bees make their living in many different ways from the busy colonies of honey bees, to a solitary nest inside abandoned snail shells (yes! some bees do that too!). Many bees specialize on particular flower species, tying their welfare to their host plant and& the habitats in which it grows. Other bees are generalists, thriving in all sorts of landscapes, including ones that humans have altered. A host of bees live entirely within the nests of other bees, sneaking and stealing to make their living. All of this remarkable diversity can be discovered by exploring this site.
*COMING SOON!* Begin exploring Michigan’s bee diversity by clicking on the family name below.