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Native Bees for Agricultural Producers

Native Bees

We are fortunate to have so many species of native bees in Oregon! With over 500 species identified, we know now how important they are for our food production. So many types of crops in the Rogue Valley, from blueberries and apples, squash and cucumbers, herbs and tomatoes, alfalfa and sunflowers, depend on non-honey bee species for pollination!  


Wait, was that a bee?

Native bees don't always look like a 'bee', from very tiny, like a small carpenter bee, to quite large, like a bumble bee, with different color patterns than the honey bee.


Did you know that 70%of all bees nest in the ground?

We rarely are lucky enough to see where native bees live - not in a hive, like a honey bee! Some bees are crevice nesters, finding holes in fences or trees, or hollow stems and stalks, or perhaps in a container with straws that a farmer provides. But 70% of all bees (a bee is not wasp!) nest underground! Which means these nests could be at risk in fields as farmers change their crops for the seasons .... or even worse, if pesticides are used.

What about baby bees?

Different species have different life cycles. With exceptions for bumble bees, carpenter bees, and a few other species, most native bees remain in the nest the majority of their life cycle. First an egg, then a larvae, and then a fully-formed adult waiting to emerge when the time is right for that species.  And most bees are solitary, meaning the female will die after about six weeks, after laying  eggs, never to see her offspring. Bumble bees and carpenter bees however, live much longer, and mated females will live almost a year, some of it underground in diapause state until spring brings early flowers. We love this brochure by Xerces about bumbles.

Which bees, when?

Another complicated characteristic of native bees is that many species are "seasonal", appearing as adults only during certain times of the year. For instance, mason bees fly in the spring, perfect for berry bushes and fruit trees as they come into bloom. Long-horned bees, aka sunflower bees appear in late summer, when the sunflowers are in full glory. (See a long-horned bee on the sunflower on our home page banner.) And, a recent arrival to southern Oregon, the squash bee, is the best pollinator for - yup! - squash!

So then next time you thank a food producer .....thank a native bee, too!

Farming for
Native Bees

We were pleased to collaborate with Our Family Farms to help create this brochure about how native bees support our agricultural production. Learn more about this important project and Our Family Farms here.


Vote with your dollar --
Support farms, orchards, and ranchers who follow safe practices for pollinators and people!

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