Summertime is watermelon season, and while you bite into that juicy watermelon, do you stop and think about the bees that made the existence of the melon possible for you? Whether bees are part of a managed colony or wild bees, whether they are honey bees, bumble bees, or mason bees, they spend their days pollinating the fruits, vegetables, and flowers that you enjoy!
Bee populations have been on the decline in recent years, and the rusty patched bumble bee is an endangered species in the Midwest. Luckily, there are simple and easy ways that you can roll a welcome mat out for bees where you live. You can cultivate native pollinator plants, reduce your use of pesticides, and if you are really feeling the buzz, use this identification guide Bumble Bees of the Eastern United States to participate as a citizen scientist in Bumble Bee Watch.
Bees do sting, so refrain from petting these fuzzy little creatures. This 1991 government poster found in the Iowa Digital Library says it best: