A honey bee (Apis) is an insect that produces honey, made from floral pollen and nectar, as their food source. Honey bees are not native to the United States. Our honey bees come from Europe (Apis mellifera sp.), brought over the Atlantic by early colonists. Honey bees build their homes, called hives, from natural wax they produce, and they raise their brood and store their food in these six-sided honeycomb cells. Honey bees live in colonies of thousands, and have a specific social order. Three classes of bees live in a hive: a queen, drones, and workers.
One of many superb pollinators is the native bee. Did you know that there are over 4,000 species of native bees in the United States, and more than 300 species of native bees right here in Florida? Some may be very familiar, but others may be surprising to you.
Some common native bees include bumble bees (Bombus spp.), sweat bees (Halictidae spp.), and carpenter bees (Xylocopa spp.). With the exception of the bumble bee, native bees are solitary. They live either underground or in cavities in wood and stems. A major advantage for human interactions with native bees is that they rarely sting. If they do sting, their “bite” is less painful than a mosquito.