Utah is home to about 900 native bee species, and most of them are solitary. They do not live in a colony, like honey bees and bumble bees, but instead each female creates her own nest. Most solitary bees nest in the ground, but many nest in pre-existing cavities, such as hollow reeds or holes left behind by wood boring beetles. Some species are active in the spring, while others aren't active until summer. In several instances, solitary bees are better pollinators than honey bees, and a few species, such as alfalfa leafcutting bees, alkali bees, and blue orchard bees, are managed as commercial pollinators.
The blue orchard bee is an important pollinator of fruit and nut trees, and can be managed in backyard or large commercial settings. "How to Manage the Blue Orchard Bee as an Orchard Pollinator," by Jordi Bosch and William Kemp discusses using blue orchard bees to pollinate fruit trees. Also, a list of resources for acquiring blue orchard bees and blue orchard bee nest materials will help in promoting this bee.
- Commercially Managed Solitary Bees (USDA-ARS Bee Biology and Systematics)
- Xerces Society - Bee Conservation
- Bee Health (eXtension.org)
- Gardening for Native Bees in Utah and Beyond (Utah State University Extension)
- Raising Bumble Bees at Home (James Strange PhD, USDA-ARS Pollinating Insect Research Unit)