The Buzzzzzzz about Bees

You may already be aware that there are several species of bees in our area.  But do you know how important they are to us as pollinators?

Bees pollinate an estimated 30% of all our food crops.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to lose any of the foods I love.   We have about 200 species of bees here in Houston.  Let’s talk a little about two of them.

Leaf cutter bee Photo courtesy of Wildscreen Arkive
Leaf cutter bee
Photo courtesy of Wildscreen Arkive

A fairly common bee in the Houston area is the leafcutter bee.  These bees are smaller than honeybees, grey and black, and a little bit fuzzy.  It’s easy to spot a female because the bright yellow pollen she collects from flowers is carried underneath her abdomen, not on her legs.  Leafcutter bees use leaves from various plants, such as roses, to help seal their nest chambers (this keeps the larvae protected while they grow).  If you notice semicircular patches missing from individual leaves in your garden, you probably have leafcutter bees around – but don’t worry, they don’t take much.   You can even build a bee house to attract these and other kinds of fascinating bees.

The country’s most widely utilized pollinator is the European honey bee.  They are not aggressive and are great fun to watch.  If you plant a pollinator friendly garden, you might attract these little beauties to

European honey bee photo courtesy of Bellengen Bees
European honey bee
photo courtesy of Bellengen Bees

your own backyard!

Some of the plants that rely on bees for pollination include many fruits and vegetables, coffee, cotton , and even the alfalfa cattle eat.  A lot would be affected if we lost these amazing insects.

How can you help?  Plant a pollinator garden!   For more information about bees and other pollinators, go to or join us at the Houston Zoo for Pollinator Days on June 20-21.


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