Honeybees are super important for Pennsylvania’s agriculture and our food sources, but there are more pollinators than just the honeybee in Pennsylvania.
European honey bee
The most important pollinator (for our modern agricultural system) is the European honey bee. These bees can be transported and have a broad diet, making them ideal for commercial pollinating. Colony Collapse Disorder has been spreading across North America and other parts of the world.
What are some of the native pollinators in Pennsylvania?
One of the most well known butterflies in the area is native and helps out in our gardens! The monarch is known for its orange and black pattern.
Mason bees are smaller and black. They are important pollinators in orchards during the spring months. Nesting boxes can be a fun project for families and can be placed in gardens to attract bees and shelter them during the winter months.
Not everyone knows the difference between bees. The bumblebee is the fuzzy fellow that are often seen on garden flowers. These bees are the second most important pollinator after the honey bee. Their buzzing sound actually vibrates the pollen off their anthers (antennas) and pollinates different flowers that they visit. Bumble bees visit many crops that are not visited by honey bees such as blueberries, cane berries, orchard crops, and nightshades.
Mining bees get their name because they will mine for the habitat. Their nests are pencil thin and excavated into the ground. They are one of the first types of bees to emerge in the Spring months.
These bees get a bad rep when they swarm around us during the hot summer months, but they are actually pollinators to crops like alfalfa, cane berries, and onion. They are often metallic blue and green, but can also be brown or black.
These bees are interesting because the carry pollen on their stomachs. They seldom sting as they are solitary bees and stinging is a defense mechanism to protect the colony. These bees live in tunnels under the ground, under stones, or other holes in the area. They get their name because the female leafcutter will cut circular leaf pieces to line her nest chambers to lay her eggs in comfort.
The swallowtail butterfly comes around in May. They are a stunning yellow color, with black and some blue/orange near the bottom of their wings. They often lay their eggs in ash and chokecherry leaves.