In nature, there are over 20,000 wild bees, evolutionary precursors of the honey bee, which are on their own throughout their lives. All bees build a nest, collect pollen and nectar and produce honey for future larvae, but when it comes to wild bees each one works only for itself. Each of them takes special care of their offspring, which for many years has aroused the curiosity of beekeepers, but the time has come when there is no one to care for the plants and we must rely on them.
Different Wild Bees and their Larvae
1. The single Eriades bees build their nest in passages gnawed in the wood, in which they have the entire supply of pollen and honey. Next is a barrier of resin and a new cell equipped with an egg. Eventually, the bee clogs the course and is no longer interested in its offspring. After hatching, each larva finds the necessary food, forms a cocoon, after which the young bee gnaws the barrier and flies free. The male bees fertilize the females in the air, the drones die, and the fertilized “mothers” make tunnels, lay eggs and repeat the development cycle without being able to see their offspring.
2. Another species is the leaf-cutting bee Megachile, which digs passages in the worm-eaten trees, which it “lines” with leaves of roses or raspberries, cut in an appropriate way in oval and round shapes. From the oval pieces it forms a hut resembling a thimble, in which it stores a mixture of honey and pollen, on which it lays the egg, and with the rounded pieces it closes the opening of the thimble. Depending on the size of the hole, several, sometimes up to ten chambers are formed, glued together.
3. The most original is the work of the stonemason bee. She finds an empty snail shell for each egg, puts a dough of honey and pollen in the most hidden place in it, and lays an egg on it, enclosing it with small stones. It seems that this barrier in front of possible invaders is not enough for her, because she builds a hut over the shell from juniper leaves or dry sticks.
4. Another species of wild bee builds exquisite cells from clay in which it lays eggs. They take care of the hatched larvae, feed them and keep them until they form young bees.
5. An even more advanced form of social integration can be found in newly hatched young bees that live together, continue to build the nest started by the mother, lay eggs and take care of the brood. The onset of autumn, however, puts an end to the idyll and coexistence is disrupted.
Some species of wild bees build these formations next to others, which in case of invasion allows them to offer significant resistance – with the growth of their buildings, their masculinity obviously increases. Some of them, with the onset of winter, form earth holes in which they overwinter, forming large gatherings – a transition to the social organization of life.
Wild bees not so different to honey bees?
An initial manifestation of a social form of communication is also observed in some males of the genus Halictus, which spend the night together, clinging to a swaying grass stem. During the day, in good weather, they scatter on all sides, but with the onset of twilight, they gather for a joint rest.
In the case of bees of the species Halictus marginatus, the name “single bees” hardly fits: in them the founder of the nest reaches 4-5 years of age, remaining faithful to it, like the mother honey bee. Her daughters built more elements of this settlement, which became a large family, consisting of several hundred members from mothers who remained unfertilized. At the end of this multi-year cycle, males appear, fertilize the mothers and start new families, and the old colony disintegrates.
Whether the bee families of the honey bee are experiencing their apogee will become clear in the coming decades. It is clear, however, that due to a shortage of honey bees capable of pollinating plants, we will be forced to study and harness wild bees as well, as long as subsidies are provided for this additional activity.
Should we return the honey bees into the forest?
An interview in 2010 with a beekeeper panicked many people, who not only consume honey but also give it to their children. He said that bees need water, and if we do not provide it, they get it from outdoor toilets and from the wastewater. In his opinion, the inspection of bees should be taken far outside the settlements – egs. In the forest.
Yes, he is right in the first part of his statement, but no beekeeper leaves his bees without water. It is as important to bees as their food – nectar and pollen. Therefore, water is provided in each hive or in the neighborhood, in which 1 teaspoon of sea salt and 2-3 drops of oxygenated water per liter are placed (the released oxygen activates the digestive tract of bees). When they have clean water nearby, the bees do not visit the waste areas and wastewater! Their sense of smell is a thousand times stronger than ours, and any unpleasant odor is unbearable for them.
As we can see, there are many different bee types than the usual honey bee, whom we are used to getting our honey. Nevertheless, bees are not only important for our honey supply, they are also a necessity for our planet, our nature, OURSELVES! Without the bees more than 80% of the fauna won’t be able to bloom and reproduce itself and this will have nonreversible consequences. Respect the bee, keep the bee!