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Growing Habitat: A Closer Look At Bees and Wasps:

Understanding The Need For Both Bees and Wasps In the Community:

Habitat is just about everything we can see. In some way, shape, or form, everything around is habitat for something. Man as an organism is very adaptable. Insects are also very adaptable, but not every species can survive in all types of habitat.
When we consider habitat and insects the topic can become rather wide. There are beetles that produce a chemical that acts like antifreeze so that they can live on the edge of ice fields and at extreme altitudes. There have been studies of insect eggs that have sat for 10 plus years on a shelf in a lab that have hatched viable insects. It is crazy to think about the extremes that organisms can live and thrive. It is equally amazing how many will die off if habitat changes abruptly.

So what is habitat to a bee or a wasp? The answer is often very different. A garden is considered habitat, so is a field, a forest, a river, a mountain, desert, tundra, and so on. These are all examples of habitat, and they are all examples of habitat for bees or wasp. Thought it is unlikely that you would find a bee or a wasp in a river, you would certainly find them near a river. The same could be said for the tundra , though the tundra is likely to attract other types of pollinators rather than bees and wasps. So the definition of habitat is very wide.

Scientifically, habitat is an area of environmental or ecological importance, where a species of animal, plant, or other organism can be found. A habitat is often considered a geographic area that is defined by the resources or niche that an organism needs to survive.

Black and Yellow Mud Dauber

When the focus of habitat becomes narrowed then the topic than is usually about niche. Niche is pretty much defined as the resources that an organism uses to survive within a habitat. Those factors include foods, shelter, environmental stability, and geographic barriers. When a garden is a habitat it is also full of different niche. An example would be the Monarch Butterfly and the Milkweed plant. There is a relationship there, and the definition of that relationship is part of the niche for the Monarch Butterly. A Honey Bee uses every flowering plant as a resource, so flowering plants are part of the niche for Honey Bees. Some relationships are very specific such as the example between the Milkweed and the Monarch. Other relationships are broader such as the example of the relationship between flowering plants and the Honey Bee. Not ever resource in a habitat can be utilized by every organism that lives within that habitat.

Developing Habitat:

The process of developing habitat is fairly easy. Build a garden, landscape your yard, tear out your lawn, plant a hedge, etc. On a grander scale, restoration projects that return abandoned land into wild places is also a way of developing habitat. In yard and garden landscape, we often hear of projects like butterfly gardens, Bee gardens, etc and those are also examples of how to develop habitat.One consideration that people should have before starting to develop habitat is sustainability. If your goal is to attract bees and wasps to your garden, than part of the habitat that will need consideration is overwintering. Can the insects that will become part of the habitat survive their year round. Will there be adequate food resources to feed a growing community?

Developing Niche To Attract Specific Species:

An example of creating a niche for a specific species would be to plant Milkweed for Monarch Butterflies, or passion vine for Gulf Fritillary Butterflies. Planting a bee garden to attract all types of bees is also an example of developing niche, and developing habitat.
Why Bees and Wasps Are Important:

Interesting Facts About Wasps and Bees:

1.Only the female wasp or bee is capable of stinging. The males do not have stingers. In the bee and wasp world, the stinger is a modified tool called an ovipositor which is also used by the female wasp and bee to lay her eggs. Some ovipositors can be very long and are capable of sawing into wood.
2.Most wasps are not interested in stinging humans. They almost always sting as a last resort. People who have been stung by wasps have usually aggravated, hurt, or threatened the wasp until it attacks. The exception to this rule is the HORNETs and Yellow Jackets which defend their territory and are aggressive. If you find a lone yellow jacket, they will almost always try to avoid you. There is safety in numbers and wasps and bees have learned this trick well.
3.Pompillids are wasps that hunt spiders. One such Pompillid specializes in hunting tarantulas. Imagine a wasp that is big enough to take down and drag off a large tarantula. There are several types of wasps in different families that hunt spiders. Mud Daubers also hunt spiders and provision their nests with them.
4.Not all bees nor wasps live in a hive. Many are solitary creatures, which exhibit quite different behaviors from social insects such as Honey Bees.
5.Bees and Wasps may build their nests out of paper, they may dig burrows, or they may not build a nest at all. They Cuckoo Wasp is one such wasp that does not build a nest. She utilizes the nest of other wasps. She lays her eggs in someone elses house, and then flies away.

Macro photography of a Honey Bee:

Humans, Bees, and Wasps:

What humans have chosen to avoid seeing is the way that everything is connected. We think of ourselves first and the rest of the world much later. There are so many ecological and enviromental disasters right in front of our faces and still we do so little about any of them. In a recent conversation with our fellow hubber, The Bard of Ely, we discussed some of these disasters. One such threat are the islands of plastic that are floating out in the oceans. One is reported to be the size of the State of Texas. The problem with the plastic is that it breaks down very slowly, but as it does, it makes its way into the food chain and even organisms the size of whales are dying from plastic toxicity. It is incredible what we do to the world. Think back a few years to the BP Oil Spill and natural disaster that occurred off the Gulf Coast. Do we think about the environmental damage that just this one oil spill caused when we are out shopping for a new car?
Here, is why bees are important… One of every three meals that we consume is the direct result of pollinators. MOST of the food we consume is the direct or indirect result of pollinators. If they bees die off, there will be no more obesity, and the western world will begin to look like Ethiopia during the worst of the famine.

What We Can Do To Help:

Humans can help bees by growing some habitat, developing niche, using reusable grocery bags, or just not using pesticides. Taking the time to plant a garden , grow some flowers, and kind of letting nature take it course is one of the best ways to help the bees. Learning about bees and wasps is also an excellent way to help. By understanding their needs, their behaviors, and their roles, we can all so little things that make a great difference to bees and wasps.

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