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Here Are the Most Gorgeous Photos of Bees Here Are the Most Gorgeous Photos of Bees

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Economy

Here Are the Most Gorgeous Photos of Bees

It's national pollinator week. Behold the beauty of the bee, an essential component of our agricultural economy.

Forget about "Shark Week," pollinator week is where it's at.

In 2006, with the unanimity usually reserved for the renaming of post offices, the entire U.S. Senate decided that a week in June would be dedicated to the celebration of pollen-transferring insects, such as bees. The resolution boldly declared: "The Senate recognizes the partnership role that pollinators play in agriculture and healthy ecosystems" and "encourages the people of the United States to observe the week with appropriate ceremonies and activities."

This year (via proclamations by the Agriculture and Interior departments) pollinator week falls between June 16 and 22 (read: this week!).

Pollinators are essential to the agricultural economy, responsible for "$15 billion in increased crop value each year," according to USDA. The bees proliferate pollen, the sperm of the plant world, to spur new plant seed growth. The almond-growing industry in California alone requires 1.4 million bee colonies a year for production. But in recent years bee colonies have been collapsing for unknown reasons. "Annual losses [of bee colonies] from the winter of 2006-2011 averaged about 33 percent each year," USDA reports. The conservation of pollinators is the conservation of agribusiness.

In the spirit of the celebrations, the U.S. Geological Survey's Bee Inventory and Monitor Lab has published the following high-resolution, macro-focused images of bee and wasp species from across the globe. Though people may fear their stings, they are really beautiful creatures. See below.

(Photos and edited captions are from USGS's Flickr account.)

Euglossa: the orchid bees. The males gather fragrances produced by orchids that are then pollinated by the infatuations of these males. The males ultimately transfer the fragrances to their modified hind legs, where they are stored in the small slot-like area seen in these pictures surrounded by black hairs.(USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab)

(USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab)

(USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab)

 

The fluorescent hairs banding the abdomen of this old-world species are what give the group the general name of blue-banded bees.(USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab)

A male Megachile mendica caught in the Green Ridge area of Western Maryland.(USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab)

Seen here and in following photos: A male Nomia from Thailand. Note the corkscrewed antennae and the greatly expanded leg segments (presumably useful in mating at nest aggregations).(USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab)

 

A male Nomia from Thailand, note the corkscrewed antennae and the greatly expanded leg segments (presumably useful in mating at nest aggregations).(USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab)

This species and its kin feed their young cactus pollen.(USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab)

(USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab)

 

(USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab)

(USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab)

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