BEES

Bees are extremely interesting and lovely creatures that move about on bright days and visit flowers. Everybody know their names and never think that they are usual insects or bugs. People mostly find them attractive, partly because they work in warm sunny places, during pleasant seasons and times of day. Scientifically bees are known as a major group of the order “Hymenoptera” that means membrane wings and they are in the Section “Aculeata”. Hymenoptera whose females have stings which is actually modifications of the ovipositors and they are very famous about it especially in Hollywood movies. 

 

The Section Aculeata include the wasps, ants and bees. That means they are close relatives. Bees are similar to one group of wasps, the sphecoid wasps, but are quite unlike other Aculeata. Bees are usually more robust and hairy than wasps but some bees are slender, sparsely haired, and sometimes wasplike even in coloration. Even some flies are also mimictic to them. 

 

If you “Google” the word “bees” you may find images and photos of these flies which resembles bees and lots of people use these photos as they think they are actually bees. If you take a closer look of them you may see that flies have actually 2 visible wings instead of 4 and their eyes and antenna are quite different than those of bees and wasps. Eg. these are NOT bees but flies.

Bees differ from nearly all wasps in their dependence on pollen collected from flowers as a protein source to feed their larvae and probably also for ovarian development by egg-laying females. (An exception is a small clade of meliponine bees of the genus Trigona, which use carrion instead of pollen.) Nearly all bees are plant feeders. Bees can collect various resources from plants such as pollen, nectar, and less commonly, oil or perfumes; some materials used for nesting like resin, soil, and pieces of leaves and petals are also collected 

Bees and the sphecoid wasps together constitute the superfamily Apoidea. The Apoidea as a whole can be recognized by a number of characters, of which two are the most conspicuous:

(1) the posterior pronotal lobe is distinct but rather small, usually well separated from and below the tegula; and

(2) the pronotum extends ventrally as a pair of processes, one on each side, that encircle or nearly encircle the thorax behind the front coxae. These definitions can be somehow difficult to understand if you are not a taxonomist and you may need a loop to see these characters. But if you spend sometime in nature you can recognise them. Just listen and look to the nature.

Apoidea are divisible into two groups: the sphecoid (or apoid) wasps, or Spheciformes, and the bees, or Apiformes. Structural characters of bees that help to distinguish them from sphecoid wasps are (1) the presence of branched, often plumose, hairs, and (2) the hind basitarsi, which are broader than the succeeding tarsal segments. The proboscis is in general longer than that of most sphecoid wasps. The first character is very familiar to hair of the human when they cracked the human hair have the same look.

These species consisting the “bees” are divided into six families and two groups: 

Apidae and Megachilidae form the group of long-tongued bees while Andrenidae, Colletidae, Halictidae and Melittidae represent the short-tongued bees. As there are approximately 22,000 species worldwide, A recent checklist collated showed that Western Palearctic bee fauna totals about 3,370 species. 

Bees mostly live in colonies with several life styles but not all the bees are social some bees live solitary. Bees may make different kind of nests in many different places sometimes together but solitary and use several types of nest material.  

 

Bumblebees are amongst the most familiar insects inhabiting meadows, gardens, and grasslands of the temperate regions of the World. They have long been popular with field biologists and naturalists thanks to their bright colours, large body size, and abundance. Bumblebees (genus Bombus) are insects closely related to honey bees, stingless bees, cuckoo bees, carpenter bees and orchid bees which together constitute the family Apidae within the order Hymenoptera. 

Bumblebees (Apidae: Hymenoptera) are a group of well-known social insects and a member of true bees that contains 265 species all over the world. Due to their significant morphology and role in pollination, taxonomical studies on bumblebees have been dated back to Linnaeus; all species were treated under the genus Apis Linnaeus. Afterwards, Latreille grouped all the bumblebee species in a separate genus, which was termed as Bombus at the beginning of the 19th century. These classification still largely accepted by the authors. However subgeneric classification within this genus is highly controversial. These discussions were also related with the methodologies used to estimate the taxa. Since the 19th century, many of the methods lost their validity. In the first attempt, the taxonomical characters were based on the coat colour patterns and nine subgenera were identified. Secondly, Radoszkowski (1884) proposed another classification based on male genitalia. Vogt (1911) modified Radoszkowski’s system. Richards (1968) classified all bumblebees within 35 subgenera. After this study, three more subgenera were added. However, the system was not convenient because of its sophisticated structure. These situations lead the division of Bombus into 15 subgenera based on phylogenetic analysis, which is broadly an accepted system for bumblebee taxonomy. This system was based on morphological characters of the male genitalia, too.

Almost all of the bumblebee species that are used commercially for the pollination of glasshouse crops around the world, an industry worth billions of dollars annually belong to the subgenus Bombus s. str. which is a monophyletic group. One species, Bombus (Bombus) terrestris, has been especially popular for glasshouse pollination and has been introduced into several countries where it is not indigenous, including New Zealand, Chile and Japan.

 Unfortunately, it now appears that there are serious risks associated with moving bumblebees between countries, even for glasshouse pollination. For example in Japan, B. terrestris was introduced into glasshouses, but feral colonies were soon discovered and the species is spreading and replacing the indigenous B. hypocrita. In North America, there is circumstantial evidence that using bumblebees reared in Europe may have caused the rapid and severe collapse of populations of the native B. affinis, B. terricola and B. occidentalis, which were previously among the most abundant species. In order to avoid possible similar collapses, commercial growers in other areas outside Europe now want to know which closely related indigenous species they have that might also perform well as pollinators in glasshouses. But this is not the only problem about the decline of bumblebees. Especially the climatic factors, urbanisation, pesticides, population by human factors effect a lot. A very detailed summary on the Climatic Factors and the distribution atlas of bumblebees has been published recently.

We have been working on the BUMBLEBEES of Turkey with Prof. Pierre Rasmont since 1993 and published several papers together and with our several students. We are still updating the data and it is now possible to reach the ATLAS of BUMBLEBEES OF TURKEY

The Bees in Decline

In Europe 59% of freshwater molluscs, 40% of freshwater fishes, 23% of amphibians, 20% of reptiles, 17% of mammals, 16% of dragonflies, 13% of birds, 9% of butterflies and 8% of aquatic plants are threatened. Comparing to those, 9.2% of bees are considered threatened in all of Europe, while at the EU 27 level, 9.1% are threatened with extinction. A further 5.2% and 5.4% of bees are considered Near Threatened in Europe and the EU 27, respectively (101 species at both levels). However, for 1,101 species (56.7%) in Europe and 1,048 species (55.6%) at the EU 27, there was not enough scientific information to evaluate their risk of extinction and thus, they were classified as Data Deficient. 

Looking at the population trends of European bee species, 7.7% (150 species) of the species have declining populations, 12.6% (244 species) are more or less stable and 0.7% (13 species) are increasing. The population trends for 1,535 species (79%) remains unknown. A very detailed RED LİST of the bees in Europe has been published in 2014 and the situation goes worst. And Yes the bees are in decline and also the bee researchers are in decline.

The Bees in the Movies

Bees are beloved creatures by people but very interestingly bees in cinema are somehow defined as gigantic monsters even in some movies religious creatures except most animation movies for kids which are still full of sympathy and symbol of team work. I hereby give some examples from movies.

Pollination

Pollination is the act of transferring pollen grains from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma. Plants and pollinators have co-occurred 
and co-evolved for at least the last 100 million years. Pollination is essential to the production of fruit and seed crops and plays an important part in programs designed to improve plants by breeding. Many of the world’s crops are pollinated by insects, and bees are often assumed to be the most important pollinators. We have been working on different projects since 1993. We have been started with the works on sunflower, tomatoes’ production in greenhouses and lately safflower pollination.

Starting from 2008 we keep on working on orchard pollination especially on cherry, almond and apple
Cherry
Orchard Pollination
Many studies in our organic production greenhouse started from 2002 and we produces tones of tomatoes
Tomatoes
Greenhouse
We made a full time work on safflower pollination since 2012 which is a very important potential biodiesel source
Safflower
Biodiesel
A_Murat_Aytekin_Pierre_Rasmont_2007

Murat Aytekin & Pierre Rasmont in 2007 working