Solitary bees do most of the pollinating, but they often get much less credit than their honeybee counterparts.
The power of the solitary bee
If you said honeybees did most of the pollinating, you would be wrong. Way wrong. In fact, it is solitary bees that are doing the heavy lifting when it comes to carrying pollen around from flower to flower. In fact, solitary bees do about ninety percent more pollinating overall than honeybees. In addition, a single solitary bee pollinates up to sixty percent more flowers than does a single honeybee.
The life of the solitary bee
Solitary bees have a relatively short lifespan. In fact, most of these bees do not live outside of their nests for more than six weeks before dying. In the case of male solitary bees, it’s even less as their only purpose in life is to mate then die.
Females can lay anywhere from one to twenty-five eggs (laying one per day). With each egg, the female provides some pollen and nectar for the baby bee. The baby munches on the food, cocoons itself for the winter, and emerges in the following Spring to live its short but ever-so-important life.
These pollinators are so efficient because they do not carry pollen in sacks such as honeybees do. Honeybees store the pollen to return it to its hive. However, female solitary bees collect pollen for one egg per day and thus have not evolved pouches to carry the pollen. Therefore, plenty of pollen simply rests on the bees and shakes off onto other flowers as the females make the rounds from flower to flower, thus being much more efficient at pollinating.
Solitary bees rarely, if ever, sting. If you let them do their thing, you do not have to worry about injury. They do not have a hive to protect, and they are too busy to be worried about the likes of you.
Help the solitary bees
You may want to provide some solitary bee homes in your sensory garden or in the area. These homes are easy and fun to build. Avoid using chemicals that will kill them. Share your love of them with others and encourage them to do the same.
Watch them work, hear their sounds, and be inspired by their creation. They are exactly the type of creature you’d like to find in your sensory garden.