Andrena mining bee
Mon, Jun 8, 2009 at 10:41 PM
Hi bugman – long time reader, first time writer. I’ve recently become quite enamored with the (what I believe to be) andrena mining bees that live in my garden. I’ve accidently dug up their burrows a few times doing spring gardening, and I’m sad to say that not all of them survived. They were always very groggy, but some of them were able to dig back down into the loose dirt when they were disturbed. This year I’ve spotted at least two burrows and have put reminders around them so I know not to dig there. Anyway, I was digging around your site, and didn’t find any close-ups of these utterly charming bees, and thought I would send along a nice one that I shot last week. Bugguide advises that identification to species level is best left to professionals – I’m happy just calling them my cute mining bees.
Thank you for your very kind letter. We are happy that you have finally written after being a longtime fan. Because of the extreme furriness and because of an image posted to BugGuide, we are more inclined to think your bee is a Leaf Cutting Bee in the genus Megachile, possibly the subgenus Xanthosarus, and quite possibly Megachile perihirta which if found on the west coast. BugGuide has this to say about the family Megachilidae: “Most are leaf-cutters, nesting in ground, in cavities, wood. Tunnels are bored in wood or in the ground. Cell is provisioned with pollen (and nectar?), an egg laid, and cell is sealed over with circular pieces of leaves that fit tightly into cavity.” Eric Eaton has indicated that he has settled in and is ready to assist us again. We will contact him to see if our ID is correct.
Correction from Eric Eaton: Mining Bee
In this case the submitter is right. Remember that leafcutter bees collect pollen in a brush on the underside of the abdomen. This female bee, likely an Andrena species, clearly has pollen collected on her hind legs.
Sun, Jun 14, 2009 at 12:10 PM
Thanks Daniel – and Eric by way of Daniel. I’ve had Eric Eaton’s help a few times on IDs on BugGuide. Being from Portland originally, he has a lot of familiarity with my backyard bugs. It’s an honor and a privilege to have one of my letters on your site!