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4. Not all bees live in hives or are social. According to Spevak, 70 percent of native bees nest in the ground and most bees are solitary. The social nature of bumblebees and honeybees is actually considered odd.
“Some bees don’t mind living next to each other," says Spevak. "Like an apartment, they’ll share an entrance but have their own individual spaces."
Ground nesting bees are also not aggressive. Even running a lawn mower over their nest will tend to get little reaction.
5. You can become a hobbyist beekeeper. Beekeeping is no longer only for professionals. According to Belli, there are more hobbyist beekeepers now than ever before.
“Hobbyist beekeepers may be the salvation of bees. They introduce a great deal of diversification,” Belli says. “It’s a great hobby and very enjoyable.”
There are a number of local beekeeping clubs in every state where you can learn more about becoming a beekeeper.
Now that you know a little more about bees, imagine how different our world and food supply would be if they disappeared completely. Sadly a number of species are disappearing and there’s no certain answer as to why. Few studies have been done on native bees, but over the last few years a concerted effort has been made to understand these species and why they’re vanishing.
Two factors believed to be contributing to the problem are loss of habitat and heavy use of pesticides. Luckily, you can help bees when it comes to these two areas.
If you use pesticides on your home garden or lawn, make sure to read labels carefully: Many will advise against spraying when flowers are in bloom and bees are active. Some pesticide concentrations in home products can also be higher than those used for agricultural purposes, as people look for quick and easy fixes, says Spevak. Take your time to review products and investigate your options before spraying anything around your garden or lawn.
To help with loss of habitat, you can plant a garden. A garden with plants that will bloom from spring to fall creates a bee habitat — and makes you a conservationist. There are programs nationwide that advise people on how to create a bee-friendly garden and even explain how you can become a citizen scientist by collecting data on your bees.
Learn more about bees and how you can help them by visiting the St. Louis Zoo website.
Read more Vetstreet articles about conservation and the work of zoos and aquariums.
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