What’s that Bee? Photos & Video

POD_070809c-Sweat Bee on Allium, croppedby Catherine Haug

It all started when Jean H. emailed me three photos from a friend in Kalispell, of a beautiful iridescent green bee, wanting to know if it could be a mason bee. These are Devvi’s PODs’ (PIcture of the Day) for July 8, shown here, with permission.

So I forwarded the photos to John Holbrook, our mason bee expert for an answer.

Sweat Bee

John responded:

According to Simon & Schuster’s “Guide to Insects” [this] is known as a ‘sweat bee,’ [or] Agapostemon Texanus, Family: Haltictidae’ Order” Hymenoptera. I don’t think they are directly related to mason bees.  But they are solitary pollinators and good ones.

POD_070809a-Sweat Bee on AlliumI find them in my yard now and then.  In fact, this year I drilled out smaller holes in a couple blocks to see if I could entice these smaller pollinators to use them. They did.  Not in profusion like mason bees.  Some of these holes ended up being plugged with mud; others were sealed off with bits and pieces of all kinds of plant materials. This stuff was glued together with spittle that dried clear and strong.  Interesting. I might have seen a sweat bee checking out the smaller holes, but can’t recall if they ever occupied any holes.

POD_070809b-Sweat BeeThe info on sweat bees mentions that they are attracted to human and animal sweat — and consume it. They sure are a beautiful metallic green! They nest in the ground digging out a vertical entrance tunnel, then excavating lateral tunnels from the vertical with each lateral terminating in a single brood chamber where the females deposit collected pollen, nectar, and single eggs. From there, like the mason bee, each young sweat bee is on its own, from larvae to adult, with all its genetic instructions intact.

I hope your group is flourishing and doing well. Tell all I said “hello” and pass on my best wishes.

“Sweat Bee” is a general term applied to many different species of bee that consume sweat. The life cycle various tremendously between species; some nest in wood, like mason bees, and others in the ground like the green bee described above. Some are solitary, like the example above; others are social, like bumble bees and honey bees.

Public Domain Image: iridescent-green-sweat-beesDevvi also sent links to other great photos of these beautiful bees, on the web:

Mason Bees

Devvi also forwarded link to a You Tube video on Mason Bees, from Clark County Washington:  The Garden Guy, Fox-12 News, on Mason Bees.

Natural Bamboo Mason Bee House, Gardeners.comYou will also find other videos on these busy bees when you pull up that link; check them out!

Gardeners.com has a great looking mason bee house (right) for your yard/garden, made from bamboo, in case you wish to purchase from them (Bees not included).


Comments are closed.