Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Scientific American

Volume

250

Issue

2

Publication Date

2-1-1984

First Page

120

Last Page

127

Abstract

For most people the beehive and the intricate social organization of the honeybees that populate it are the hallmark of bee life. In reality more than 85 percent of the some 20,000 bee species are not social but solitary. Each female independently mates, makes her own nest of about 10 brood cells, stocks the cells with food for the young, lays an egg in each cell and dies before the next generation emerges. The solitary bees play immensely important roles in ecological systems, particularly in the pollination of crops and wild plants. Indeed, farmers in some parts of the world are beginning to make specific arrangements to accommodate solitary bees for the pollination of crops (such as alfalfa) that are not pollinated effectively by honeybees.

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