Genetics and bee conservation: telling the full story of a species’ decline

We’ve all probably watched bees engage in pollination as they move from flower to flower collecting pollen. This process is essential to the reproduction of many plants, including crops. When most people think of pollinators, they think of the honey bee (Apis mellifera). However, more than 20,000 species of bees have been described—all of which are pollinators! In fact, honey bees are actually native to southeast Asia and have spread across the globe due to human activities, potentially competing with other bees. Despite the honey bee’s ubiquity and popularity, native bees are important pollinators because ecological adaptations that differ from those of honey bees. For example, the tongues of many native bees such as bumble bees can reach the nectar of longer flowers for pollination better than the honey bee.

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