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Most bees can be separated into two categories of preferences females of pollen, whether specialists or generalists. Bees specialists have developed a specific relationship with a few or even just one species of plant. Some bee specialists feed on pollen that can only be found in a kind of plant. These specialists come out of their nests at the same time that their host plant begins to bloom. The host flower sometimes depends on the pollination of a bee species and the bee depends on pollen from its specific flower species. This mutualist relationship can be found all over the world. On the other side of the spectrum, generalist bees are less picky with the flowers they visit. They usually visit a wide range of types of flowers and species when they are looking for pollen.
Male squash bees waiting for a female.
In our garden in Berkeley, CA we have both specialized bees like bees generalists who visit the flowers. Two plants that attract the bees of specialization are the pumpkin (Cucurbita spp.) And sunflower (Helianthus annuus). The pumpkin bee (Peponapis pruinosa) is found throughout North America and follows the flowers of pumpkin plants (Cucurbitaceae ). Pumpkin bees are more active very early in the morning when the flowers are open. While the pumpkin bee is the main pollinator of this plant, we have seen other generalists like honey bees who visit the flowers from time to time.
Diadasia ochracea on Malacothamnus.
A female Megachile perihirta on seaside daisy.
General bees are by far the most abundant bees in our garden in Berkeley, CA. In summer the two bees that are more common are the long horns (Melissodes robustior) and the beetles (Megachile perihirta). These two bees are feeding on any number of flowers, including Aster mexicana (Cosmos bipinnatus), blanket flower (Gaillardia grandiflora), sunflower (Helianthus annuus), daisy (Erigeron glaucus), shrub sunflower (Encelia californica), and Golden Goddess (Bidens ferulifolia). Their pollen needs are not restricted to a specific host flower, and this allows them to forage more freely and for a longer period of time. These bees have a "season" longer than some other bees, as they are able to feed on a wide variety of flowers.>