There are 500 native (wild) bee species in Illinois and 4000 native bee species in North America. 70% of them are ground nesters, also called miners. Ground nesting bees are solitary bees, and build their nests underground. Solitary bees live alone instead of in hives or colonies. It may appear they live in a colony since their individual nests are often located close together. Some native bee species are specialist because they collect or prefer pollen from specific native plants. Even more reason to landscape with native plants. Bees that collect pollen from many different types of plants are referred to as generalists.
Unfortunately ground nesting bees and other native wild bees have long been taken for granted because they pollinate flowering plants without human management and at no costs. Many scientists, farmers, gardeners, and natural area managers are now realizing the importance and economic value of native pollinators. Studies by The Xerces Society indicate native bees are more efficient pollinators than honeybees, but unfortunately are more sensitive to pesticides.
Here’s a short 2 minute video introducing ground nesting bees and how to create habitat for them in your landscape. More educational resources are below:
If you’d like to learn about native bees, here are some resources:
- Link: Wild Bee Conservation (Xerces Society).
- Xerces Society educational bee and insect YouTube video webinar links
- Book: The Native Bees in Your Backyard, by J. Wilson and O. Messinger Carril
- Book: Bees: An identification and Native Plant Forage Guide, by H. Holm
- Book: Bee Basics: An introduction to Our Native Bees, by B. Moisset and S.Buchmann
- Link: Economic value of Ecosystem Services