Solitary Bees vs. Social Bees
There are over 20,000 bee species worldwide. Honey bees, are one of the best known 'bees' due to their treasure troves of honey, beeswax, pollination services and other benefits to mankind. Honey bees however are an exception to the bee world. Most bees are solitary, and nest in hollow twigs, or burrow underground. If you disturb a solitary bee nest, and if the female is inside the nest and not on a foraging trip, she may buzz past but she won't sting to defend her nest. This is a one big difference between honey bees (which are truly social) and solitary bees. Honey bees will not only defend their nests, they will die to do so. Honey bee workers are the only bee with barbed detachable stingers that continue to pump venom into their victim long after the bee is swatted away to die. Female solitary bees have the ability to sting, but usually only do when trapped in a hand. Another big difference between solitary bees and honey bees is the number of individuals in the nest. A honey bee nest is usually composed of an egg-laying queen, depending on the season a few hundred male drones, hundreds of thousands of workers (guards, foragers, nurse bees, etc.), and the next generation developing as brood- eggs, larvae and pupal bees. Whereas a solitary bee nest is composed of the brood on their own personal provisions in a nest made by a single mother bee who does all of the egg-laying, foraging and making the nest. She has no time or desire to risk her future potential nests by attempting to defend just one nest.
Research Update April 2017
Presentation at University of Hawaii-Manoa
USFWS Pacific Islands Coastal Program video sharing our research project.
Featured Creature article for IFAS Extension
Kodamaea ohmeri in bumble bee colonies
Comparison of bumble bee and honey bee colony airborne volatiles
Small Hive Beetle Attraction to Honey Bee and Bumble Bee Volatiles
The potential management of a ground-nesting, solitary bee: Anthophora abrupta (Hymenoptera: Apidae)
Florida Entomologist 98(2): 528-535.
Graham, J R; Wilcox, E; Ellis, J D (2015)
Managing a locally rare, ground-nesting bee with artificial nest sites and selective dispersal via translocation of nest materials.
Native Buzz: Citizen scientists creating nesting habitat for solitary bees and wasps.
Florida Scientist 77(4): 1-15.
Graham, J R; Tan, Q; Jones, L C; Ellis, J D (2014)
A citizen science project was developed to inspire participants to design, build, monitor and report data on solitary bee and wasp artificial nest sites in their backyards.
Standard methods for wax moth research
Apicultural Research 52(1): 1-17.
Ellis, J D; Graham, J R; Mortensen A (2013)
Methods for conducting research on the wax moth, a honey bee nest parasite.
A scientific note on the comparison of airborne volatiles produced by commercial bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) and honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies
Apidologie 44(1): 110-112.
Graham, J R; Carroll, M J; Teal, P E A; Ellis, J D (2013)
The airborne volatiles were collected from honey bee and bumble bees colonies and analyzed via GCMS, the resulting chemical compounds were compared and found to be quite different.
Kodamaea ohmeri (Ascomycota: Saccharomycotina) presence in commercial Bombus impatiens Cresson and feral Bombus pensylvanicus DeGeer (Hymenoptera: Apidae) colonies.
Journal of Apicultural Research 50(3): 218-226.
Graham, J R; Ellis, J D; Benda, N D; Kurtzman, C P; Boucias, D G (2011)
Kodamaea ohmeri, a yeast known to attract small hive beetles, honey bee nest pests, was found in commercial and feral bumble bee colonies.
Aethina tumida (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae) attraction to volatiles produced by Apis mellifera (Hymenoptera: Apidae) and Bombus impatiens (Hymenoptera: Apidae) colonies.
Apidologie 3(42): 326–336.
Graham, J R; Ellis, J D; Carroll, M J; Teal, P E A (2011)
Small hive beetle attraction to various components from honey bee and bumble bee colonies was investigated in 4-way olfactometer choice tests.
My Curriculum Vitae
Last updated: March 2017
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Bee Research & Conservation
Post-Doctoral Research, Plant and Environment Protection Sciences, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Identify and monitor individuals, nests and populations of native and non-native bees in the field
University of Florida
Doctor of Philosophy, Entomology and Nematology
Minor in Agricultural Education and Communication
University of Florida
Master of Science, Entomology and Nematology
University of Delaware
Bachelor of Science, Entomology and Applied Ecology
Minor in Wildlife Conservation