In the 2012 President's Budget Request, the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) is terminated. As a result, all resources, databases, tools, and applications within this web site will be removed on January 15, 2012. For more information, please refer to the NBII Program Termination page.
The guides are broken down by genus, with each having an information page followed by a page of illustrations and a distribution map. Each guide can be downloaded as a PowerPoint presentation (presentations hosted by NBII with permission from the author).
Hymenopterophily: pollination by bees, wasps, or other members of the Hymenoptera Order.
Hymenopterophilous: plants that are pollinated by bees, wasps, or other members of the Hymenoptera Order.
What are Pollen Bees?
The term "pollen bees" has been in use since 1992 to describe all bees, other than honey bees, that help pollinate crops and wild flowers. Pollen bees also are collectively called native bees, wild bees, and non-Apis bees. Over 20,000 species of pollen bees have been identified worldwide, with over 3,500 occurring in North America. In fact, before honey bees were brought to North America by Europeans, pollen bees were responsible for all pollination done by bees in North America. However, since the 1950's declines in pollen bee populations have made it necessary to supplement bee pollination with the use of introduced honey bee (Apis mellifera) populations. Pollen bee declines have been attributed to pesticide use, habitat loss, irrigation, monoculture crops, and cultivation.
The European honey bee (Apis mellifera) is an almost global species. Honey bees (Apis spp.) can be found pollinating plants throughout northern Europe and Africa (honey bees are native on both continents) and they are also common in the Americas where they were introduced by humans during the early colonization of the continents. Honey bees are best known for their role in the production of honey.
In North America, many native bee species, as well as some wasps, are also important pollinators. The bumble bee (Bombus spp.) is among the most important pollinators of temperate zone plants. Other native bee pollinators include mason bees (Osmia spp.), leafcutter bees (Megachile spp.), squash bees (Peponapis spp. and Xenoglossa spp.), long-horned bees (Melissodes spp.), sweat bees (Family:Halictidae), alkali bees (Nomia melanderi), and sunflower bees (Diadasia spp. and Svastra spp.).
Habitat loss and fragmentation threaten many of these beneficial organisms. A decline in nectar-producing flowers is one problem, but a loss of nesting habitat may have more serious consequences for some species.
Often when we think of bees, we envision a hive with a single queen who lays eggs and worker bees that look after the eggs, as with honey bees and bumble bees. In fact, 85% of bees are solitary - meaning a single female mates with a male and then constructs, provisions, and lays an egg in each cell in a nest by herself. Examples of solitary bees are the hornfaced bee ( Osmia cornifrons ) and the orchard mason bee ( Osmia lignaria ). Solitary bees do not produce honey or wax, are relatively docile and not apt to sting, and are resistant to parasites and diseases of the honey bee. These types of bees live in nests dug underground or placed in hollows in reeds, bamboo, logs, or other materials. Nesting females may make their nests close together forming aggregations with thousands of nests and bees. Common traits of solitary bees that form aggregations are: they are naturally active at the time a crop blooms, favor this crop's flowers, and can reproduce on a diet of nectar and pollen from the crop.
Ants and many bees and wasps are eusocial - meaning they are socially highly organized. Eusocial insects are reproductively specialized, with a reproductive division of labor often involving sterile members caring for the reproductive members. Other defining features of eusociality are overlapping of generations and cooperative care of the young. All ants are eusocial with morphologically different workers and queens. Some bee and wasp species, including honey bees ( Apis mellifera ), carpenter bees ( Xylocopa spp.), bumble bees ( Bombus spp.), paper wasps ( Polistes spp.), and yellowjackets ( Vespula spp.) also exhibit eusociality. Interestingly, humans are also defined as eusocial. (Reference: Social Behavior of Polistine Wasps, Joan E. Strassman, November 8, 2006).
The NBII Program is administered by the Biological Informatics Program of the U.S. Geological Survey