Above photo: A display of native bees in Wisconsin. Photo: Sevie Kenyon/UW-Madison CALS.
A bee identification guide developed by CALS and UW-Extension experts, including PJ Liesch of the UW-Madison Department of Entomology, can help Wisconsinites identify the distinctive striped insects that will soon be flying around the state.
Liesch, who is the director of the UW Insect Diagnostic Lab and known on Twitter as the @WiBugGuy, says there are approximately 400 different bee species known from Wisconsin, and the two most common types – honey bees and bumble bees – are social and live in large colonies.
“With a colony of relatives to protect, these social bees can be a bit defensive if the nest is directly disturbed, but otherwise tend to be docile in other situations,” Liesch says.
Wild bees constitute another large portion of bees. These tend to live in solitary nests and are extremely docile, and are common from spring through fall. Liesch notes that wild bees. are responsible for the majority of bee diversity.
“Each bee species is unique in terms of their foraging behavior, nesting habits and seasonal activity, so the bees at your local flowers will change through the course of the year. ”