Updated July 4 at 12:15 p.m.
By Robert Moscato-Goodpaster and Rebecca Thiele
Andrena uvulariae is a native bee that's attracted to bellwort flowers – small, yellow, and close to the ground – where this bee likes to live.
These are plentiful in the Burnett Woods Nature Preserve where Avon resident and entomologist Robert Jean first found one last year. This year he found even more while taking bee samples.
Jean says the species is so rare that not much is known about it. He says we focus a lot on honeybees, but there are other, native pollinators that deserve more study.
“The more knowledge we have about these types of things, the better insurance we’re going to have in our food industry,” he says.
Central Indiana Land Trust executive director Cliff Chapman says it’s good to have another native species, because for years European bees have been imported to counterbalance declining native populations.
“Most of the food you buy at the grocery store is pollinated by bees, and so having habitat to support native pollinators like this little bee is going to be important,” says Chapman.
Chapman says, if the Andrena uvulariae population grows, we won’t rely as much on European honeybees for pollination.
Honeybees and bumble bees have been declining in the U.S. due to disease, pesticides, and habitat loss. Jean says he suspects native bees are dying in greater numbers as well, but we’ll need to do more research to find out.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.