Bird House Mystery Solved: Green Orchid Bee

bug nest?
Location: Ft. Lauderdale, FL
November 12, 2010 8:45 pm
I haven’t seen the bug yet, but something completely covered the hole in a decorative birdhouse on my porch with a thick, shiny, sticky substance that looks like it has dried bits of stuff embedded in it. It’s been closed over for about a week and today I noticed the hole was open and I saw a glimpse of an insect head, but it ducked back into the birdhouse. What in the world can this be?
Signature: Linda G

Bird House Mystery: Dripping Honey Perhaps???

Dear Linda,
Bumble Bees frequently nest in empty bird houses and Bumble Bees provision the nest with honey.  We have an awesome image in our archives of a Red Tailed Bumble Bee nest in a birdhouse and another image from earlier this year of a Bumble Bee nest in a bird house in Oklahoma.  According to the Bee Man Exterminators website (which does not condone the removal or extermination of Bumble Bee nests):  “They often nest in bird houses using the old bird nest from a past year to nest in.
”  Our best guess is that this might somehow be related to a nest of Bumble Bees and the oozing may be honey.  We would be thrilled to post any additional images of the insect should you be able to secure any, and we would love to be able to assist in clearing up this mystery.

Thanks for the reply.  I had put the whole birdhouse in a big plastic bin on Friday evening and during the day on Saturday the “bee” came out….not very lively, but crawling around on the bottom of the bin.  Earlier today I put in some wildflower weeds from my yard for him and he went right to them and started crawling around from flower to flower.  When I checked again at dinner, he was latched onto a flower and not moving at all, so I went for the camera.  I picked the whole stem out and took a couple of pictures thinking he was dead since he hadn’t moved at all and poof!…off he flew!  I’m attaching the 3 pictures I did get.  When I googled iridescent green bee, I checked out a couple sites….could he be a “sweat bee”?  And why would there only be 1?  In 2 days, there was nothing else coming out of the birdhouse.  And the stuff gooking down from the hole is black, almost like tar!  So WEIRD!  But I guess a lot is weird in the bug world.  If you can give me any other info, I’d love it!
Thank you so much for the interest and the reply!
Linda G

Orchid Bee

Hi Linda,
Your bee is an Orchid Bee
Euglossa viridissima, a recent immigrant to Florida first reported to What’s That Bug in 2003 or 2005, or somewhere in between.

Thank You, Thank You!!!!!  After I googled Orchid Bee and checked out several sites with pictures, I’m sure that’s what he (she) was!  I’m glad it wasn’t something nasty like the African Killer bees!  I’ll be on the lookout for more hanging around my porterweed…it really was very pretty!
I love watching butterflies, caterpillars and such and try to make my yard welcoming to all sorts of wildlife…it was very exciting to see something so unusual and thanks to you it’s been identified!
Thanks again!
Linda G

UPDATE:  November 17, 2010
Just a quick follow-up on my orchid bee that you identified….I hung my birdhouse back up on my porch without cleaning off the black resin goop and when I came home last evening, it was closed up again! Totally!  After being completely open since last Friday.  And just a little while ago, I went out for mail and there is a hole about the size of a tack, so I’m guessing the bee came back, more were inside and just never appeared over the weekend when it was inside the big bin, or another 1 or more have taken over the nest!?  Whatever, it sure is fascinating!  Funny I’ve  never see any activity in over a month of watching the resin get bigger, close over completely and then the holes during the day.  Should I report my orchid bee to anyone?  If so, who or where should I look to find it….guess I can google it like I did to find you!
Thanks again,
Linda G

Thanks for the update Linda.  We don’t think you need to report your Green Orchid Bee as it is already known they are well established in Florida.

13 thoughts on “Bird House Mystery Solved: Green Orchid Bee”

  1. The thick, sticky substance blocking the entrance of your birdhouse is called Propolis, which bees produce to aid in constructing their hives. Bees normally use Propolis to limit the number of entrances to their hive (thereby making it easier to defend and limiting the size of intruders), seal cracks in the hive, or general water-proofing. Incidentally, propolis is one of the best things I’ve ever found to fix a hole in a bucket!

  2. It’s me again…almost 3 years later! And my birdhouse is STILL an active nest for the green orchid bee. I know they don’t live that long, so it must be successive bees. even though I’ve learned they are solitary and only females do nests, I have on many occasions seen 2 bees using this nest…most often 1 guarding the hole and another coming back with it’s back legs carrying little yellow sacs. Sometimes there will be no observed activity (opening and closing of hole) for days or even a week or 2 at a time, other times the hole is opened and closed more than once a day, but it’s always closed at night! This birdhouse is right next to my front door, so I’ve been able to observe activity lots over the last 3 years! I named her BEA and her name is now on her house!

    • Thanks for following up with us Linda. Though the Green Orchid Bee is a solitary bee, they do tend to nest communally, with each female providing for her own brood, but often in close proximity to other nesting females.

  3. I too have discovered orchid bees nesting in a bird house on my patio. I posted this question in your comments section. I’m concerned because the bird house sits low and very close to people and my dog. I don’t necessarily want to disturb their home but I don’t want any of us to get stung for getting too close to their nest. Anyone have advice? Thanks in advance.

  4. Thanks and I’m glad to know they aren’t aggressive. Still I’m nervous for my dog. Now that she has watched me looking at this nest her interest in it has grown. Just tonight she had her nose all over it. I would like to move it to a higher and safer location. Will they be able to find their home? I don’t want to move it far, just higher and away from dog level. Any advice? Thanks.

  5. I still have mine 4 years later. I added a second bird house to a higher shelf on the plant stand and it wasn’t long before an orchid bee made her home there. Now we have an orchid bee townhouse! I love them.

  6. I have a bird box with the front hole covered in what looks like a spider web.
    This covering has a hole in it about 10mm dia. having searched I wandered if it could be one of these insects?
    Blue tits originally went into the box but never nested in it.
    I live in Camberley Surrey UK

  7. Orchid bees are eating away the paint and caulk of pine bannisters near my front door. How do I get them to leave my home alone? The home is for sale and the black gunk looks pretty bad. Any advice to get them to find another place to feed?

  8. Mine keep nesting in my outdoor electrical boxes. Always gives me quite a fright when I go to plug in seasonal lights. Any suggestions on how to get them to nest somewhere else?

  9. Hi, I’m so glad to read all these posts. I now know what I have living in my birdhouse in our kid’s fort. We have had the holes covered up and were afraid to break it open. We have seen the bee and he is green and very bright. Thank you for all this information. We have an orchid bee house.


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