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Xylocopa or “carpenter bees” are one of North America’s largest genus of bees. They chisel into dead pieces of wood.

The tiny bee is in the genus Perdita.

A bee or not a Apis mellifera. The European honey bee.

By Kristen Munson

Bombus huntii or“Hunts bumble bee” is common in the Intermountain West.

18 UTAHSTATE I WINTER 2017

Pop quiz. How many species of bees are native to the United States? Fifty? Five hundred? A thousand? Better quadruple that figure. A recent study published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment found that although 99 percent of respondents consider bees important, most people vastly underestimate the number of native bees in the United States, and less than half of participants could identify two common bee species. In other words, for as popular as these pollinators are, most people don’t know buzz about bees.This begs an important question: how can we save what we don’t recognize? That’s something the study’s lead author emphasizes as some native bee populations may be declining. Joseph Wilson, ’05, PhD ’10, is an evolutionary ecologist at Utah State University-Tooele. Before you can do a conservation campaign you have to know your baseline, he explained. We may need to step back and figure that piece out because successful conservation efforts require public support and the knowledge to implement them appropriately. Otherwise, efforts to “save the bees” can fall short, or even backfire.

Utah State magazine Winter 2017 issue  

The quarterly magazine for friends and alumni of Utah State University