Bees are abundant throughout the United States, says conservation specialist Phillip Elden. Here, the Native Oregon founder answers a few common questions about this buzzing wonder.
Q: Where can you find bees?
Phillip Elden: Bees live throughout the United States. You can usually find them in gardens, meadows, and anywhere flowering plants are abundant. In nature, bees tend to make their home inside of open tree cavities or under ledges, each of which serves to protect them from predators. Although bees can easily adapt to a domesticated environment, they thrive in the wild and can live up to half a year.
Q: Is it true that bees will sometimes kill their queen?
Phillip Elden: Absolutely. Although everyone is aware that a bee colony is essentially overseen by a queen bee – which is one who produces all of the offspring for the colony – few people realize that her rule is not absolute. If a queen bee produces a high number of sterile (or lazy) males, her colony may turn on her so that one of her daughters may take over contributing her genetic material for the betterment of the entire colony.
Q: Are bees dangerous to humans?
Phillip Elden: Bees can be dangerous, especially to young children who do not give them their space. Although rarely fatal, a bee sting may result in an allergic reaction in some individuals. For the vast majority of people, however, a bee sting will result in little more than a painful welt that goes away in a few hours to a couple of days.
Q: Are bees aggressive?
Phillip Elden: Typically, no. But, aggression is cyclic in most bee colonies, and they may tend to be more active and aggressive in late summer/early fall as their food supply begins to wane. Bee colonies that do not have a queen are often more aggressive than those that do.