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Discover Nature: Bees in Spring

Missouri Department of Conservation

So much in the natural world is ephemeral especially in the spring. This week on Discover Nature we look and listen for buzzing signs of the season.

Pollinators like wild honeybees are swarming now throughout Missouri. Usually seen as they forage in flowers for pollen and nectar, honeybee nests are often located in tree cavities or in beekeepers' boxes, not in the ground. Just a half-inch long, these insects are vital to humans who rely on bees for about a third of our food supply.

While honeybees are establishing new colonies now, carpenter bees are also laying eggs. Up to an inch long, these insects somewhat resemble bumblebees but have a noticeably black, shiny abdomen. Bumblebees, although about the same size and shape, have a noticeably fuzzy abdomen, usually with a prominent yellow band across it.

Distinguish the two by their behaviors: Carpenter bees are rather solitary and excavate their nests in wood. A small pile of sawdust beneath a hole about 3/8 inch in diameter is a clue to their presence. While they can do damage to structural wood, you can encourage them to stick around by providing blocks of wood attractive to them.

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Trevor serves as KBIA’s weekday morning host for classical music. He has been involved with local radio since 1990, when he began volunteering as a music and news programmer at KOPN, Columbia's community radio station. Before joining KBIA, Trevor studied social work at Mizzou and earned a masters degree in geography at the University of Alabama. He has worked in community development and in urban and bicycle/pedestrian planning, and recently served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia with his wife, Lisa Groshong. An avid bicycle commuter and jazz fan, Trevor has cycled as far as Colorado and pawed through record bins in three continents.
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