05 Dec

Go Green… Nah, Get Blue Bees


Everyone has heard of honeybees. They gather nectar, fly back to their nest, and create golden honey. Honeybees are not the only type of pollinator. There are a hundreds of different native “bees” that spend their lives pollinating flowers. If you like apples, cherries, raspberries, peaches, strawberries, plums, apricots and the color blue then you are going to love the Blue Orchard Bee. Not a fruit lover? If you like roses, you can thank the Blue Orchard Bee.

Heave the Hive
You won’t find a Blue Orchard Beehive. Unlike honeybees, Blue Orchard Bees are solitary; they do not live in a massive colony. These bees are solitary. They might build their solitary nests in the same area, yet don’t talk to their neighbors. A female Blue Orchard Bees finds a bore hole in wood or a nice hollow reed and creates a stack of chambers. They prefer long straw-sized cavities and use mud to build the rooms. Each chamber contains an egg, a bunch of pollen, and nectar.

Judging Gender
Blue Orchard Bee Females are able to determine the gender of each egg. Fertilized eggs become females while the unfertilized become males. Larval Blue Orchard Bees spend the majority of their lives in a small, dark isolated chamber. If you are a Blue Orchard Bee, protecting your daughter is of prime importance. Males are expendable. Females mean the propagation of the next generation; only a few males need to live in order to further the species. Imagine the insect gender rights activists on this one. Blue Orchard Bees place the female eggs at the back of the chamber stack; males are in the front near the mud-capped opening. When a predator gets hungry, it will have to eat through six or seven males and mud partitions before it gets to a female.

Perfect Pollinator
You might not know it, but that little honeybee is inefficient. They might make honey; however, they are not great at pollenating. If you have a small apple orchard, a group of 250 Blue Orchard Bees could effectively pollinate every tree. Use honeybees for the same area and to get the same level of pollination, you would need a colony of 55,000. Honeybees are just lazy. The biggest difference between honeybees and their blue cousins is honey. Blue Orchard Bees don’t make honey. Blue Orchard Bees cross-pollinate better. For you, that means better apples, strawberries, peaches and other fruit and produce. If you are terrified of beestings, Blue Orchard Bees will make you smile. Males don’t sting. Females will only sting if severely provoked. In order to get stung, you would have to be touching the stinger, flicking the bees’ head and probably forcing it to listen to rap music. Blue bee stings occur so infrequently that many assume they cannot.

Blue Orchard Bees have become famous with urban and suburban growers. You can buy your own Blue Orchard Bees online. Next time you take a bite out of a perfect, juicy apple, a Blue Orchard Bee might be the reason for your delight.

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