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By carrying pollen from plant to plant in their quest for nectar, bees help to facilitate plant reproduction, giving bees an essential role in the sustainability of our agriculture.  Bee populations have been threatened over the last decade by a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder, where the bees leave their hives and never return.  This year, however, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released positive news: bee populations were on the rise during the first six months of the year.

Here we see a number of different species of bee interacting with various plants in the Boston area. Bumblebees (genus Bombus) can be identified by their larger bodies and yellow coloration, whereas honeybees (Apis mellifera) are smaller, slender and have more prominent stripes. While both honeybees and bumblebees are colony-dwelling, social insects, only honeybees – as their name suggests – produce honey.

Contributed by Ian Hill, a fifth year graduate student in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences program at Harvard University, and our Featured Artist for January and February, 2018. To meet Ian and see more of his art, click here.

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