Good for the garden
All have evolved into lifestyles very different from the honeybees' hive-dwelling swarms of thousands. Squash bees, for example, developed in the Americas along with plants in the squash family -- everything from gourds to squash to pumpkins. Highly specialized to emerge just in time for their target plants' bloom, the males will fly earlier in the day than honeybees.
Like many native bees, squash bees are good news in the garden, not only for their pollination efforts but also because, unlike honeybees or ground-dwelling yellow jackets, they almost never sting. These solitary bees offer little to attract vertebrate predators in the way of honey, pollen, and brood, but they are beset by ants, insect predators, and parasites, for which a sting is pretty useless.
The blue orchard (mason) bee is another solitary variety. These bees are champion pollinators for spring-blossoming fruits like cherries and apples.
From almonds and avocados to watermelon and zucchini, bees are as beneficial and essential as soil and water to produce our food. Experts say as much as one out of every four bites we consume has a bee connection. With honeybees threatened, that's yet another reason to encourage native varieties.
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