Large, colorful, bee
Location:  Costa Rica, near San Vito
July 19, 2010 8:35 am
Can you identify this bee. It was photographed at Las Cruces in Costa Rica. It is about 1 inch in length and very colorful.
Doug Goodell

Orchid Bee

Hi Doug,
Your excellent photos should make identification quite easy, but alas, we have had no luck trying to identify this species.  We suspect it may be one of the Carpenter Bees in the subfamily Xylocopinae, but that is pure speculation.  Perhaps one of our readers will have better luck than we have had with a species identification.

Orchid Bee

Karl identifies the male Orchid Bee
July 20, 2010
Hi Daniel and Doug:
I believe this is a male orchid bee (Apidae: Apinae: Euglossini) in the genus Eulaema, possibly E. cingulata.  The odd looking object attached to its side or hind leg (hard to tell) looks like an orchid pollen packet, or pollinarium.  Apparently male Euglossine bees are attracted to certain orchids not to gather nectar, which these orchids don’t possess, but rather to collect fragrant compounds which are then used to attract female bees. The male flowers are designed so that the pollinarium is flung onto the bee when it lands, where it sticks until the bee visits a female flower where it completes the pollination. Both males and females visit other flowers to obtain the nectar they need. I did quite a bit or reading last night when I was looking into this because the bee/orchid relationship is truly fascinating, but I will leave it at that for now. I have attached a few links to photos that show E. cingulata, one with pollinaria attached. Regards. Karl

Thanks Karl,
As always, your contributions are greatly appreciated.  You are awesome.

Hi Daniel
Thanks so much for this info, and please if possible send my thanks to Karl.  I have seen the orchid bees before (in Belize) but they did not have these great colors — but then there several types.  They are certainly facinating. Your links were very convincing.  Again thanks.
Doug Goodel

2 Responses to Unknown Bee from Costa Rica: Orchid Bee

  1. s says:

    Just thought I would share some observations. I live on a orange plantation in northern Costa Rica and these large bees, we’ve been calling them bumblebees, are fairly common here. They construct cylindrical “nests” in whatever suitably size holes they can find, often to my annoyance when they jam my sliding windows. These bees aren’t social like real bumble bees or honey bees. It’s always a lone female that builds them. The “nests” seem to be just some sort of egg depository, and are made of many layers of paper like bark glued together.

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