Currently viewing the category: "Sweat Bees"
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Subject: bug identification
Location: Howrah, West Bengal, India
July 25, 2015 12:10 am
Sir,
these photographs are of a type of bee I guess. They were sucking honey from sacred basil flowers. I shall be grateful if you can provide me with further details.
Regards
Signature: Sreeradha Seth

Metallic Sweat Bee

Metallic Sweat Bee

Dear Sreeradha,
Based on its similarity to North American species including this image on BugGuide, we believe this is a Metallic Sweat Bee in the family Halictidae, but alas, we were not able to find any similar images from India on the internet.  We did uncover this technical article including species from the family found in India, but it has no illustrations.  Metallic Sweat Bees are solitary bees with each female producing her own underground nest.  Your images are beautiful.

Metallic Sweat Bee

Metallic Sweat Bee

Metallic Sweat Bee

Metallic Sweat Bee

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Unknown Very Small Bee Species
Location: Lamar county, South Mississippi
December 25, 2014 6:14 pm
http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=f95_1347056701
Above is a link to a video I posted of an unidentified bee species I found in my back yard one day. I realize the video isn’t the best quality but it’s all I have. They were so small once I left the area I couldn’t find them again to obtain a specimen. I can tell you my finger seen in the video is 2 cm wide, exactly, if you can use that for size reference.
If you pause it near the end you can get a decent profile of it and it’s characteristics. They lived in a small hole which was guarded by the abdomen of a colony member. They appeared to be gatherers but were so fast I couldn’t see what they were bringing back. My first impression was that I was looking at a queen fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) ready to swarm as the bees had amber, shiny bodies just like fire ants. But their flight characteristics said bee to me. They weren’t aggressive when I probed the opening with a small piece of grass, they just removed it and continued to keep the entrance sealed with an abdomen.
I have passed this video around to a few local entomologists and they keep telling me bees don’t get that small and they can’t tell without a specimen. All the research I have done has produced similar looking insects like Sphecodes but I can’t find any that fit into this size range.

Thank you.
Signature: Steven Cimbora

Bee or Wasp???

Probably Sweat Bee

Dear Steven,
Your video shows what appears to be a Mining Bee in the family Andrenidae.  According to BugGuide:  “Many small, ground-nesting bees observed in areas of sandy soil are members of the family, Andrenidae. Characteristics of this family (of which there are approximately 3000 species) are: Small size, 20 mm, (or smaller) brown to black in color, and nesting in a burrow in areas of sparse vegetation, old meadows, dry road beds, sandy paths. Although the nests are built in close proximity of one another, the bees are solitary (each female capable of constructing a nest and reproducing). Many species are active in March and April when they collect pollen and nectar from early spring blooming flowers. The female bee digs a hole 2-3 inches deep excavating the soil and leaving a pile on the surface. She then digs a side tunnel that ends in a chamber (there are about 8 chambers per burrow). Each chamber is then filled with a small ball of pollen and nectar. An egg is laid on the top of each pollen ball and the female seals each brood chamber. The emerging larval bees feed on the pollen/nectar ball until they pupate.”  We are shocked that your local entomologists have no knowledge of these native, small, ground-nesting Mining Bees.

Head of a Mining Bee preparing to exit

Head of a Mining Bee preparing to exit (from our archives)

Thank you for the quick response.
I just wanted to point a few things out that run contrary to the Mining Bee’s description based on my personal observations of them.
I observed fellow nest members guarding the entrance with their abdomen, as seen in the video.
The nest entrance is perfectly clean of any mounding or tunnel waste and I observed more than one bee leave and return to the entrance. A few times there were several hovering near it waiting to enter.
The size range of 20 mm or smaller is starting out at the width of my finger, seen in the video which is 20mm or 2 cm wide. I would estimate their size at about 5 mm at best and that was the bigger ones.
As you watch the very beginning of the video, right before I put my finger in frame, you will see one depart then another come to the entrance and block it with it’s abdomen. This is not a solitary bee as the mining bees are described as being. They also appeared to lack the pollen brush associated with Mining bees.
Thank you for the effort and if I can ever find them again I will definitely get a specimen.
Steven Cimbora

Thanks for getting back to us Steven.  We have tagged the posting as Unidentified and we have included a screen shot from the end of your video.  Perhaps one of our readers has an idea what Hymenopteran this might be.

Update:  January 4, 2015
Mr. Marlos,
I am providing a new link to some more footage of the unknown bees I found in my back yard. There is much more footage of their activity and it is stabilized. It also shows the presence of more than one bee occupying the nest at a time (Entrance guard) and better footage of their flight characteristics.
I went ahead and scaled some screen shots to try and get a better measurement of them and I came up with approximately 3.2 mm in length. I did this by scaling a screen shot of my finger until it measured the same as actual, using Gimp2 software to measure with. I then took a screenshot of the bee in flight and scaled it to the same dimensions and then measured it. The opening measured approximately 1.1 mm.
You might also find better images to capture and post in this footage as well.
Thank you for your time.
Steven Cimbora
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdMJJITjT-Y&feature=youtu.be

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Green Orchid Bee
Location: 76016 Arlington, TX
November 29, 2014 2:50 pm
This was taken today in Arlington, TX. We’ve seen several of these today humming around the garden. Temps are unseasonably warm, but will cool down tomorrow.
Signature: Lisa Parisot

Metallic Green Sweat Bee

Metallic Green Sweat Bee

Dear Lisa,
To the best of our knowledge, the Green Orchid Bee is not found in Arlington, Texas.  It is an introduced species and according to BugGuide it is a member of a:  “neotropical group, with 1 sp. established in so. FL and recorded from southernmost TX (Brownsville)”
  This is a Metallic Green Sweat Bee in the subfamily Halictinae, and you can read more about them on BugGuide where it states:  “Most species nest in burrows in banks or in the ground (Augochlora uses partially rotten logs). Some are primitively eusocial; in such cases usually a female guards the entrance to the burrow by plugging it with her head. Generally the main burrow is vertical; it sends horizontal branches, each branch ending in a solitary cell.”  It can be very difficult to identify Metallic Green Sweat Bees to the genus or species level from images. 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: green bee
Location: Denver CO
June 8, 2014 12:17 pm
There has appeared in my buffalo grass lawn several dirt mounds that at first seem to be larger steep ant hills, but today I saw these colorful bees going in and out. Are they natives?
Signature: Jeanette

Metallic Sweat Bee

Metallic Sweat Bees

Hi Jeanette,
These beautiful, little, native bees are known as Metallic Sweat Bees, most likely in the genus
Agapostemon, based on images posted to BugGuide.  Of the subfamily Halictinae, BugGuide notes:  “Most species nest in burrows in banks or in the ground (Augochlora uses partially rotten logs). Some are primitively eusocial; in such cases usually a female guards the entrance to the burrow by plugging it with her head. Generally the main burrow is vertical; it sends horizontal branches, each branch ending in a solitary cell.”  One of your images illustrates a Metallic Sweat Bee flying toward a hole that has its opening plugged by the head of another bee.

OK, I guess I have seen both small and larger sweat bees in the yard.  I’ll try to get some better photos.  I’m seeing several different kinds of bumblebees also.
Thank you Daniel,
Jeanette

Metallic Sweat Bee

Metallic Sweat Bee

Wonderful Daniel!  I noticed that each opening of the three or four there would often have a bee in it, I kept waiting to try to get a good picture, but they would duck back down.  I have lots of mostly native flowers blooming in my yard right now, it is delightful to get native insects too.
I always thought sweat bees, or what we called sweat bees, were not as large as these.  These are closer to the size of honey bees ( though these in the picture are smaller than honey bees) .  Sorry I didn’t have anything to compare it to in the picture.
Thank you for your good work,
Jeanette

Hi Jeanette,
Some species of Sweat Bees are quite small.  Bee Informed lists their size range as between 1/4 and 3/4 inch.

 

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Metallic Sweat bees
Location: SW Nassau County, NY
February 3, 2014 11:14 am
Hi Guys,
Working on my photo exhibit I am looking at a Metallic Sweat bee with green head and thorax and striped yellow/black abdomen. There is a characteristic I don’t see mentioned in your previous evaluations about which I’d like to know your thinking. This bee’s wings, at rest, are broadly parted, while other bees you’ve talked about held their wings tight against the body. It is on a sunflower. Taken in July 2011.
Signature: Carl F

Sweat Bee

Sweat Bee

Hi Carl,
My what a small and low resolution image you have sent to us.  While resting with wings folded over the body is the typical position used by Sweat Bees while visiting flowers, as you can see from this image on BugGuide, parted wings do represent a possibility.  Perhaps your particular Sweat Bee had just alighted, or it was just preparing to take flight.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Possibly a wasp?
Location: Melbourne Victoria Australia
January 25, 2014 12:57 am
Hi there,
Saw this on my bush in my garden, at first i thought it was a group of seeds, until i looked closer, just wondering what they were, and if they were anything to worry about.
Location: Australia, Melhourne, Eastern Suburbs
Season: Second Month Summer
Sorry if the photos are not great, very bright day so was hard to get one that wasnt overexposed a little
Signature: Curious

Bachelor Party of Longhorned Bees

Bachelor Party of Sweat Bees

Dear Curious,
This is a Bachelor Party of male Longhorned Bees in the tribe Eucerni, but we are not certain of the species.  Male Bees do not sting, so they pose no threat to you.  You can see similar images of Bachelor Parties from North America in our archives.

Update:  February 5, 2014
We got a comment that these might be male Green and Gold Nomia Bees,
Lipotriches australica, a type of Sweat Bee that also exhibits this Bachelor Party behavior in Australia.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination