Currently viewing the category: "Orchid Bees"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: ID of Cancun bee
Location: Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, Mexico
December 31, 2016 12:51 pm
I took these pictures on 12/28 at about 8:30 AM in Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, Mexico, just south of Cancun. I thought it was some species of bumble bee, but have not been able to identify it through on-line research. I believe the white on the head and thorax is just pollen. I’m sorry for the blurriness of some of the images – I’m sending you the best of the lot. Could you please tell me what species you think this might be? Thank you.
Signature: Nochejt

Bumble Bee

Orchid Bee

Dear Nochejt,
We believe you are probably correct that this is a Bumble Bee.  We also agree that the white on the head and thorax is pollen.  We have not had any luck locating any solid black Bumble Bees with solid yellow abdomens online, but we will continue to attempt to provide a species identification for you.

Bumble Bee

Orchid Bee

Thank you Daniel. I also have come up empty. Possible new species?

Bumble Bee

Orchid Bee

Correction Courtesy of Karl
Hello Daniel and Nochejt:
I believe this is actually an Orchid Bee in the tribe Euglossini. The genus is Eulaema and the species is likely E. polychroma. Regards, Karl

Awesome Karl/Daniel!  Thank you so much.  After looking up Eulaema polychroma, I agree.  The distribution is a good match.

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Orchid bee?
Location: Royal palm beach florida
March 11, 2014 1:21 pm
I believe is orchid bee, do not have pic of actual bee, have had over a year now. he is quite interesting
Signature: Toni

What's Nesting in the Bird House???

What’s Nesting in the Bird House???

Dear Toni,
We are presuming that you attached two images of a bird house because the creature in question has nested inside the bird house.  Your letter did not describe the creature, which you have stated is a Bee.  The Orchid Bee,
Euglossa dilemma, is a bright green bee that is often seen hovering near blossoms.  If the Bee you have had for over a year is not bright green, it is not the Orchid Bee.  We have received another report of Green Orchid Bees nesting in an abandoned birdhouse, but Bumble Bees will also nest in a birdhouse.  Only the female Orchid Bee builds the nest, so you should use the pronoun “she” when referring to your creature.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: sweat bee or mason bee
Location: SW Florida
January 5, 2014 8:41 pm
Just wondering if this is a sweat bee our a mason bee. Sighted in sw florida 1/5/14. Size of a honeybee. Hovered like a hummingbird. Blue in the light, green in the shade. Solo, friendly, gentle!
Signature: Stacey

Orchid Bee

Orchid Bee

Hi Stacey,
This is an Orchid Bee,
Euglossa dilemma.  It is a neotropical species and we first became aware of the Orchid Bee‘s presence in Florida in 2004.  Since that time, it has become well established.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Bee
Location: Chiriqui Panama, Central America
July 12, 2013 12:12 pm
This bee has a strange ”backpack” on it’s back and , in addition to a ”normal” bee tongue-tube, it appears to lower and extend it’s lower mandible and some pinkish ”baleen” comes out. What is this bee and what is the story with these two strange characteristics?
Signature: Linda

Bee from Panama

Orchid Bee from Panama with Pollinarium

Dear Linda,
Thank you for sending us your wonderful photographs of this unusual Bee.

Bee from Panama

Orchid Bee from Panama

We believe that it looks identical to an Orchid Bee, Eulaema cingulata, that we posted some years back.  Karl assisted us in that identification and he provided us some links.  We believe the “backpack” you observed is an orchid pollen pack or pollinarium.  Karl wrote:  “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.”  Karl also provided us with a link to this photo of an Orchid Bee with a pollinarium that looks like your documentation.  Here is a photo of a mounted specimen with a pollinarium from Spiegel Online, but alas, we don’t read German.  The Biodiversity of Belize website has a similar photograph and you must scroll to the bottom of the page.  There the site offers the information about Eulaema cingulata:  “Males of this and related species pollinate a number of Neotropical orchids such as this Catasetum. These male bees visit the flowers nut so much as for the nectar but in order to obtain certain chemicals they need. For this reason the males can also be attracted by using benzyl acetate and other chemical substances as bait.  The bee to the right is incapacitated by a pollinarium of Catasetum integerrimum that is stuck to its wing. It was unable to remove this pollinarium and only after I removed it myself, the bee was able to fly again.”  The interconnectivity of all things on this planet includes such highly specialized adaptations as the pollination of a specific orchid by a specific Orchid Bee.

Orchid Bee with Pollinarium

Orchid Bee with Pollinarium

Julian Donahue provides some information.
I think the word is “pollinium,” plural “pollinia,” at least that’s the way I’ve always seen it.
Milkweeds have a similar pollination apparatus, with pollen “clips” that I’ve seen attached to the legs and other parts of various moths.
Julian

Ed. Note:
Encyclopedia Britannica online provides this definition for pollinarium:  “…the caudicles, which are derived from the anther. Orchids that have a stipe also have caudicles that connect the pollinia to the apex of the stipe. The pollinia, stipe, and viscidium are called the pollinarium.”  Encyclopedia Britannica online provides this definition for pollinium:  “The pollen grains are usually bound together by threads of a clear, sticky substance (viscin) in masses called pollinia. Two basic kinds of pollinia exist: one has soft, mealy packets bound together to a viscin core by viscin threads and is called sectile; the other kind ranges from soft, mealy pollinia, through more compact masses, to hard, waxlike pollinia; the latter usually have some mealy…”  So, when other parts of the plant (orchid) are included with the pollen, pollinarium is more correct.  Guess we need an orchid expert to determine which word is more correct in this situation. 

Daniel and Karl,
Thank you so much for your assistance. You have a wonderful resource for those of us who like to know what is around us. I have been photographing and documenting what we find in our property here in Panama and so many of the insects are new to me. I have an interesting praying mantis with purple spots that I will send next time. Thank you.
Linda

A belated comment
Subject: Orchid Bee’s
July 18, 2013 8:53 pm
There are pictures of an orchid bee with a strange appendage on it’s back. I may know what that is. There is a certain orchid in Costa Rica that blooms in the lowland broad leaf deciduous forest which is a member of the lady slipper orchids. When the flower is ripe and opens it has a spring mechanism within it that when triggered by the orchid bee it shoots a small miniature plant like thing (see orchid bee picture and appendage stuck to it’ back) that has some sort of latex glue on it. I actually think it’s a miniature plant, that the bee gets to transport on it’s back to a new location thus not only pollinating the plant but taking it’s offspring to a new location. This is a theory.
Signature: Daniel Shields

Thanks Daniel,
We recently posted photos of an Orchid Bee with the Pollinarium of an orchid on its back.

 

 

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Bee Fly?
Location: Plantation FL
September 24, 2012 12:41 pm
Photographed this bug in my south Florida back yard. It was really attracted to my basil plant. Is it a bee or a Fly?
Signature: Laura

Green Orchid Bee

Hi Laura,
We first reported on Green Orchid Bees,
Euglossa dilemma, in Florida in 2004, and that posting created quite a stir.  We have since learned that this Central American species has become well established in southern Florida.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Metallic Green fly with Silver pincers
Location: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
July 8, 2012 2:37 pm
Hello Bugman!
I rescued this fly from my pool yesterday & have been trying to find out what it is… As you can see it’s very shiny green & where the ”mouth” is, it has pretty big silver pincers.
Can you help? 😉
Thanks!
Signature: PunkRockGirl

Orchid Bee

Hi PunkRockGirl,
We are going to also address a separate email you sent regarding using our search engine.  Type in a few key words.  We tried that with this request.  Knowing the insect order really helps, but when we first saw a photo of this creature in flight, we were uncertain if it was a bee or a fly.  We typed in “Metallic Green Fly” into our What’s That Bug? search engine and one of the choices was this Orchid Bee posting from 2004 when we first reported on this Central American species being sighted in Florida.  They are now firmly established in Florida.  The Orchid Bee is a beautiful creature and we now have many postings in our archive.  You can compare the face to this image from BugGuide and BugGuide also has other information.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination