The Different Types of Bees You May Find in San Diego County and How to Identify Them
Did you know that there are over 20,000 known bee species in the world? And according to the official United States Geological Survey (USGS) website over 4,000 of these species are native to the United States specifically. Approximately 10% of these native bees have yet to be described or categorized which means there is still a significant amount of research to be done on all of these bees. If anything can be for certain when it comes to these bees – it’s knowing that they all play a vital role in pollination.
If you live in or have ever visited San Diego, California, specifically San Diego County, then you know how beautiful the various terrain is. From the breezy ocean coastline to the low valleys, rolling hills and high desert, there is no question why everyone wants to be in San Diego. However, with the weather ranging mostly from slightly perfect to absolutely amazing, there tends to be more vegetation and flowers which happen to also include, you guessed it, bees! Not to mention, there are a great number of swimming pools in the area as well. So it may come to no surprise that you may see plenty of different bees in the San Diego area.
Of the approximated 4,000 native species of bees in the United States, California is home to roughly 1,000 of these bee species. So of the 1,000 different types of bees located in California, what are the most common bee species we have in San Diego County?
Lets break it down…
Bumblebees are large, fuzzy, social bees that belong to the genus Bombus. They are known for their distinctive black and yellow striped pattern, although some species have different color variations. Bumblebees are important pollinators for a wide variety of plants, including many crops, and their unique ability to vibrate their wings at high frequencies allows them to dislodge pollen from flowers with an efficiency that is unmatched by other insects. Bumblebees live in colonies with a queen bee and a few hundred workers, and in the fall, new queens will mate and hibernate while the rest of the colony dies off. Bumblebees are also able to fly in cooler temperatures than other insects, which makes them important pollinators in colder climates.
2. Carpenter Bees
Carpenter bees are a species of bee that are known for their wood-boring behavior. These bees are solitary insects that can be found in various regions throughout the world. Carpenter bees are about the same size as bumblebees and have similar body shapes, but their abdomens are shiny and black instead of fuzzy and yellow. They have a yellow patch of hair on their thorax, and some species have additional yellow or white markings. The females have pointed abdomens that enable them to bore into wood to construct their nests, which can cause damage to wooden structures. Unlike most bees, carpenter bees don’t live in hives. Instead, they each build their own nest in a piece of wood, which they excavate by chewing into it. Despite their potentially destructive behavior, carpenter bees play an important role in pollination and are generally not aggressive toward humans.
3. European Honey Bees
European honey bees, also known as Western honey bees, are a species of bee originally native to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. They are now widespread throughout the world thanks to human introduction. Honey bees are social insects, living in large colonies with a single queen bee who is responsible for laying eggs to produce new workers, drones, and future queens. These bees are known for their important role in pollinating many plants, fruits, and vegetables. They are also well-known for their production of honey and beeswax, which humans have harvested and used for thousands of years. Honey bees have distinctive black and yellow striped abdomens and are medium-sized insects, typically around half an inch long. They are docile and are not usually aggressive unless provoked, making them a favorite of beekeepers and a valuable contributor to many ecosystems.
4. Africanized Honey Bees
Africanized Honey Bees, also known as killer bees, are a hybrid of European honey bees and African honey bees. They were first introduced into Brazil in the 1950s in an attempt to increase honey production. However, their aggressive behavior and swarming tendencies led to their unintentional spread throughout South, Central, and North America. These bees are highly defensive and easily provoked, attacking in large numbers and pursuing their target for long distances. They are known to have killed humans and animals, especially those who disturb their nests. Their genetic makeup allows them to thrive in both tropical and sub-tropical environments, which has contributed to their widespread distribution. Despite their nickname, they are not necessarily more venomous than European honey bees, but they pose a greater threat due to their aggressive behavior and tendency to swarm.
Avoid Removing or Relocating Bees, Bee Colonies or Bee Hives Without an Experienced Bee Removal Service Professional
Removing bees without experience can be dangerous for both the person attempting the removal and the bees. Improper and unskilled removal techniques can agitate the bees, causing them to become defensive and aggressive. This could lead to multiple stings and potentially life-threatening allergic reactions.
In addition, removing bees without experience can cause unintentional harm to the bees themselves. Attempting to remove a hive without proper knowledge and tools can result in the destruction of the hive, killing off entire colonies of bees. This can have extremely detrimental effects on local ecosystems and global food supply chains, as bees are a crucial part of pollinating many plants that humans rely on for food.
Overall, it is important to seek the help of experienced professionals when dealing with bees or any other potentially dangerous wildlife. It is never worth risking injury to oneself or disrupting an important part of the natural environment.