Entomologists have found a species of bees that do a better job than honeybees at pollinating some orchard crops.

Philip Torchio, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Logan, said colonies of honeybees responsible for pollinating billion-dollar crops like apples, pears, almonds, plums, prunes and alfalfa; have been weakened in recent years by parasites - forcing restriction of their interstate movement and export.But now entomologists are touting the blue orchard bee, a native of the United States, as being capable of increasing yields because it pollinates orchard crops more efficiently than honeybees.

Torchio said blue orchard bees continue flying even during cloudy, windy or rainy weather when honeybees head for their hives. The orchard bee's milder disposition may also be an important attribute.

Honeybees live in colonies containing up to 100,000 bees, while the blue orchard bee is a solitary insect that won't attack in swarms when alarmed.