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Desert Diary



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We've all known horror stories about introduced plants and animals damaging the environment. There are, however, some success stories. One of these is the introduced Honeybee. Few people know that Honeybees are Old World creatures. True, the New World has a wealth of native bees, but none does quite the job of pollination that Apis mellifera, the Honeybee, does.

Pollination? What's this pollination bit—don't Honeybees produce honey? Sure do, but a far more important chore is seeing that our domestic crops get pollinated. For many of them, no pollination, no crop, and native bees fall short in this vital job. By one estimate, 38% of our food is Honeybee pollinated. Not that honey isn't important—and tasty. Different plants imbue distinctive tastes, and we, as entirely impartial judges, know that honey made from our desert mesquites is the best!

But immigrants like Honeybees are the exceptions. Currently, two inadvertently-imported mites wreak havoc among these bees, wiping out more than 50% of the hives in some areas. The buzz of busy bees gone? No, but painfully diminishing. pen and ink


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.



A honeybee (after Lutz, 1921).