Bees get a bad rap. People often lump them in with their wasp and hornet cousins, viewing them as aggressive, creepy, or dangerous. To be fair, no one wants bugs in their home or buzzing around their faces, but we also have plenty to learn about these fuzzy flying insects. Here are the facts about some of the different species of bees in the U.S.
Everyone knows that honeybees make honey—it’s right there in the name. You can identify this species by its golden-brown color and black stripes. Honeybees live and work in hives that they build into colonies, which makes them an extremely social species. The purpose of a honeybee’s life is to work for the hive. This might mean collecting pollen and nectar for food, making honey, or raising young bees. Like all the bees on this list, honeybees are natural pollinators, which is one of the reasons why they’re so important to our environment.
Along with honeybees, bumblebees are one of the only types of bees that live in colonies. They’re slightly larger than their honeybee cousins and covered in thick yellow and black hair, giving them a round, fuzzy appearance. Bumblebees build their nests in the ground and live in smaller colonies of only a few dozen bees. Most of the different species of bees in the U.S. are harmless until you threaten them or their homes, but the bumblebee is particularly nonaggressive.
These bees are in the same family as the honeybee and bumblebee. Also called wood bees, they’re known for boring into wood to make their nests. No one wants pests drilling into their homes, but you should avoid immediately reaching for the insecticide if you see a nest. Carpenter bees visit flowers to feed on nectar, and they pick up and transfer pollen from plant to plant as they do so. It’s because of processes like this that we have bees to thank for a third of our crops. Instead, you can keep carpenter bees away from your home by painting or sealing the wood or spraying an existing nest with a natural repellent.