Bees (Anthophila)

Bees, or bee-like wasps

Bees are, in evolutionary terms, a specialized group of wasps that switched from being predators and parasites (eating other insects, mainly) to being herbivores that dine on nectar and pollen. Like wasps, most bees build nests for their eggs, and store nectar and pollen for larval bees to eat once they hatch. In some bee families, such as the Apidae (which include domesticated honeybees), adult bees actually feed their larvae as they grow. Most bee families include species that have become kleptoparasites, laying eggs in the nests of other bee species rather than building and provisioning nests of their own. All bees have hairy bodies, ranging from dense pile like a fur coat, to just some velvety fuzz on their head and thorax; pollen sticks to the hair, and the bee grooms much of it off, to eat or to store in its nest. Some bee families have special adaptations to help them collect pollen, such as comb-like bristles on their hind legs (Apidae and Halictidae) or their forelegs (some Megachilidae), or soft pollen-catching rugs on the underside of the abdomen (Megachilidae and some Andrenidae).

Most bees are “solitary”, which is to say that female bees live alone, each in her own nest. But communal arrangements are found in many species especially among the Apidae and Halictidae, from sharing the defense of a cluster of individual nests, to a single nest shared by a queen and her daughters, to a “hive” with division of labor and many generations of daughters

Gender is important in bees’ lives. Females build nests and hives and collect pollen). Males hang around the flowers, camping outside beneath leaves or flower petals at night, eating pollen and nectar during the day while looking for females to mate. In many species, males and female bees

Bees are highly diverse, with many families and over 8,000 species worldwide. Thus far, researchers have found about 250 species of bees in the Salish Sea lowlands of Washington and British Columbia, including the islands. The islands do not need to import bees from elsewhere in North America – it is unnecessary, and risks introducing new parasites and diseases. We need to protect and provide healthy habitat for the bee species we already have!


Family Apidae
Bombus mixtus, Lopez Island

Family Andrenidae
Andrena prunorum, Iceberg Point,
Lopez Island