Photos of close ups of the honey bee feeding on the pollen of a michaelmas daisy. There appears to be a varroa mite attached to the back of the bee on the top photo. These tiny mites appear to be crab-like and suck the juices out of the bee and infect them with a virus that kills the bee. Beekeepers can have infestations of these mites in the hives, and the mite is decimating the honey bee population. Some bee keepers have contracts to put their bees into fields to pollinate the crops. So the infestation of mites is causing millions of dollars in crop production losses. In the UK they are seeking to introduce the black bee as a substitute for the honey bee. There are also chemicals that can be used to attract the mites to a surface where the chemical is applied, and thus the mites starve when they are not on a bee. This chemical is like the pheromones emitted by the bees and so the mites are attracted to the trap.
I have a hive of black bees in a cedar tree in my back garden. Some of the research I did with google searches says these black bees can be aggressive. The ones in my hive are not at all aggressive. The hive is about 10 - 15 feet off the ground. I was a bit antsy about getting close to them, and I could not seem to get a good close up with my little Canon S3 IS with its 12X zoom. I do not seem to have a long enough lens for my Rebel.
Also, in searching for black bee images, I came across carpenter bees. They are not social bees though, and this hive would not be carpenter bees. Apparently carpenter bees are about the size of a bumble bee, but have no hairs on the abdomen and are black to shiny dark blue. They are not aggressive either. The male cannot sting, and the female only stings if it is threatened. She makes burrows in wood, collects pollen and nectar, deposits some of this food in a hole, lays an egg on the cell and seals it over. So, this bee is also a good pollinator. Some people with orchards set out pieces of soft wood for this bee to use as a home to encourage it to colonize the wood and pollinate the crops.
The wasps are a far bigger nuisances than any of the bees. I see them stripping wood off the deck and using it to build their cells for laying eggs. I watched them rolling the wood into a small ball to carry away. They can get to be quite a large hive. A couple of years ago Pat and I removed one of these nests from in the debris under the camillia tree next to Mrs. Pees sidewalk. Pat is not afraid of bee bites, and did not get bitten, even once, while digging out the nest. We hauled it off to the compost bin, and I thoroughly watered down the area. There were wasps coming back for days afterwards, but I guess the queen was gone, and they have not rebuilt there. A couple of weeks ago, while liberating some clay from under the deck, I inadvertently must have struck a wasp nest. I got two stings and they took at least 2 weeks to heal. Today I watered under the deck, but could see no sign of the wasps around the area. But I will still wait for winter before I clean up under the deck, now!
Today, I spent more time watering the corners that I may have missed with the sprinklers, yesterday. I did some weeding. I see I have some sort of canker on the plum tree at the front. I cut off all of the branches with this stuff on it, that I could find. The tree looks healthy with lots of branches and good green leaves. Next spring, I should prune it properly and feed it with the fruit tree spikes. I will need to research this growth on the tree to see what it is.