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FAQs About Bees

 Answers by Don Ziegler

  • What species are they? Osmia lignaria, native to Pennsylvania; and Osmia cornifrons, native of Japan. They are a bit smaller than a honeybee.
  • Do they drill holes in wood?  No. Pollinator bees cannot drill.
  • Are they dangerous? No. They are hard working, focused on their mission, non-defensive, non-aggressive, not flashy, and just want to be left alone to do their thing. If you get in their way they will fly around you, or they might bump into you in their hurry, bounce off, and fly around you to get on with their work.
  • Do they swarm?  No. But they are gregarious and will nest in groups. When pollinator females are all working hard, they might look like a small swarm around the nesting box, but they are working individually.
  • Why not just raise honeybees? Pollinator bees are more efficient pollinators than are honeybees. Only several hundred female pollinator bees are needed to pollinate one acre of orchard, where generally several hives with thousands of honeybees would be needed. Pollinator bees often replace honeybees as orchard pollinators because they are easy to keep, and because honeybees are dying off under tremendous environmental pressure.
  • Do they sting? A: Not really. Unlike honeybees, they do not have barbed stingers or venom sacs. 
  • Why do the nesting boxes have little holes in them? In nature the bees seek holes to nest in.
  • Why are some boxes painted bright colors? A females selects a nesting hole and tags it with her unique pheromone to let others know it is reserved. She flies fast and furious from the flowers and back, and needs to find her tiny nesting hole quickly. She keys in on visual features, specific colors and shapes around the hole. If you move their nesting box they become disoriented.
  • Would bees thrive in a bee box outside my window where I could watch them? Perhaps. Pollinator bees flourish best in a box set about three feet off the ground in an open sunny area with sources of spring pollen and mud or wet soil.
  • When are they most active?  April through May, when the sun is bright, the air warm, and flowers are open. The female works tirelessly during the day, only stopping once the sun has gone down.
  • Do we bother or frighten them when we get close?  Not really. They do not seem to be aware of people. For this reason they are very interesting projects for children who often are fascinated with their activities, and can sit very close and watch.
  • How far do pollinator bees roam? Only a couple hundred yards from their nesting box.
  • Why do you put these bees on campus? Because I love them and could not abandon them when  I moved. Also for the pure pleasure of seeing this aspect of God’s creation in its amazing beauty, for the good of our flowers, trees and environment, as a community project, to offer something   unusual and exciting to learn and talk about.