RSCN4758 - solitary bee max
copyright – Alan Conrad 2016

For years now I’ve been saying that shy solitary people are perfectly natural, that shyness and non-social behavior is common throughout nature.

What better example is there than bees?

Most people know that the honeybee is one of the most social animals on Earth. But how many know that of the approx. 25,000 species of bee in the world, over 20,000 are solitary?

These are bees that, except for mating, live their lives entirely alone.  Many dig burrows and lay their eggs in them. Others look for crevices, etc. If you see a lot of flying activity just above the ground, it’s probably solitary bees. Look more closely and you should see burrows like those shown here. If your lucky, you might see a little bee face in the opening, watching you.

DSCN4539 - S bee burrows wide

Most of them are much smaller than honeybees or bumblebees, so they can be hard to spot. Some are minute. But in northern temperate regions like much of North America and Europe, this is when they become active.

You may see what appears to be a colony of burrows. But they aren’t co-operating, they’re just all taking advantage of a good digging spot. Neither do they appear to fight. They respect each other – live and let live. Not like many humans.

They take nectar from flowers too, and so do a lot of pollinating. With honeybees and bumblebees in decline, solitary bees are becoming more important.

Watch out for them.

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