It’s Not Just About the Honey

Did you know? The bee has been chosen by the Royal Geographical Society as the most important animal in the world. But we’re not talking only about honey bees. There are more than 1,000 species of wild bees living in nature in Israel, and it’s very important to study and protect them

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The wonderful ‘bindweed’ bee, Systropha, ‘dives’ into the bindweed flowers and collects pollen on all parts of its abdomen, both front and back

In recent years we have encountered a lot of information and activities about butterflies: butterfly-attracting gardens, butterfly counting and monitoring, butterfly-lovers groups that can identify each and every species, and more… butterflies are indeed unique, amazing, beautiful insects, and we have nothing bad to say about them, but among all the insects in nature, the most important of all are actually the bees.

Why are bees disappearing?

In 2019 the Royal Geographical Society chose the bee as the most important animal in the world. Indeed, our existence is highly dependent on it: without bee pollination, most agricultural crops cannot produce fruit. However, the number of bees in the world is diminishing at a worrying rate, together with the total number of insects: a German study published in 2017 reported a 75% (!) decrease in the total community of flying insects that were sampled across several nature reserves, during the years 1990–2015.

The bee crisis has been brought on by a number of factors, including climate change, destruction of habitats that serve as both foraging areas and a source of nectar and pollen, increased use of chemical pesticides, environmental pollution, beehive pests and disease vectors.


Bees are globally divided into two groups – bees that are used in agriculture, and wild bees that live freely in nature

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A great diversity of native bees in Israel

Bees are globally divided into two groups – bees that are used in agriculture, and wild bees that live freely in nature. Two species of bees are used in agriculture. The first is the honey bee, a wild animal that was domesticated by humans about 4,000 years ago, and is reared in beehives for honey and pollination. The second is the bumble bee, which is used in commercial agriculture for pollination purposes only.

Wild bees live in all places in nature where there are flowers. They collect pollen and nectar and use them to produce a food that is called beebread; it serves as a nest into which they lay their eggs, and is then eaten by the larvae that hatch from the eggs. In contrast to honey bees, wild honeys are solitary, meaning, they do not live with their young, but move on to another area after laying their eggs.

While the honey bee is the most well-known bee and much is known about it, research on wild bees is still in its infancy. What we do know is that there are

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Leontodon tuberosus, which has a very long flowering period, turns out to be particularly favoured by small wild bees of various species

more than 1,000 different species of wild bees in Israel! This is exceptional biodiversity in comparison to Europe, for example, and contributes greatly to the ecosystem.

Bee research at Ramat Hanadiv

Both honey bees and wild bees collect their food from nature. They feed on the same nectar and the same flowers. Under certain conditions of reduction and pollution of open landscapes and a lack of food sources, competition may develop between honey bees and certain species of wild bee.

Since 2019, a study has been taking place at Ramat Hanadiv to investigate the diversity of wild and honey bees active in the field, to determine whether the bee community is actually diminishing, and to better understand the interactions between honey bees and wild bees. The study samples diverse habitats at Ramat Hanadiv, from February to June, when flowering is at its peak and bee activity is high.


There are more than 1,000 different species of wild bees in Israel! This is exceptional biodiversity and contributes greatly to the ecosystem.

A hotel for insects

Feeding on late flowers

The first interesting finding is that from late April, in certain habitats, wild bees are much more active than honey bees. They show interest in late-flowering plants, such as chicory (Chicorium), bindweed (Convolvulus) and Cephalaria. If this finding is consistent over time, it will help us manage the Nature Park in a way that better supports wild bees.

Ramat Hanadiv can serve as an example of a garden that attracts wild bees, and in the future we’ll be able to disseminate the knowledge onwards to anyone who is interested in establishing such a garden themselves. Meanwhile, interest in wild bees is increasing and we encounter more and more nature lovers and experts who have joined forces to learn more about the topic and ensure that Israel’s wild bees don’t disappear.

Do you want to help wild bees too?

First of all, don’t be afraid of bees in nature. As long as you don’t attack them, they won’t sting. There are many things you can do, for example: sustainable gardening without using chemical pesticides, planting plants and fruit trees that attract pollinators, scattering seeds of wild plants in your garden, and building a ‘hotel’ for bees and insects, out of boxes, branches and other natural materials, in which they can happily hide.

Most importantly, don’t harm the bees! If there is a colony of bees in your surroundings that bothers you – contact ‘Magen Dvorim Adom’ to receive assistance in transferring the swarm to another location:

To learn more about wild bees, you’re welcome to visit the exhibition that will be opening soon at Ramat Hanadiv. The exhibition will include wonderful photographs. Keep updated about the time and location of the exhibition on our Facebook page and website.

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