Currently viewing the category: "Bees"

Help identify this nest of bees
Hi Bugman!
I am so grateful I found this site and I am hoping you can identify this nest of bees which have decided to take over a bird house in our back yard. Are they dangerous? Are they endangered? I hope you can help, they make me a little nervous!
Thanx a lot!
Linda Robb

Hi Linda,
Because we are feeling cantankerous, we must begin by yelling at you. Where are you???????? Insect identification is difficult enough when location is known. If we didn’t love your photo, which is awesome, we would have simply hit the delete key and moved to a letter with more substance. If you are in the eastern U.S. or Canada, these are Red-Tailed Bumble Bees, Bombus ternarius. According to our Audubon Guide: “In early spring queen enters opening in soil to build honeypots and brood cells. Small workers develop first, visit flowers for nectar, and construct new brood cells. With warmer weather, larger adults develop. Only young mated females overwinter.” With the current state of the world, all living things are endangered but your native bees are not rare. They are not aggressive, but you should not disturb their nest or they will sting repeatedly. Please let them live in their awesome new home.

Sorry Bugman,
I live in Portland, Oregon. Thanks for identifing our bees. I have a few more awesome photos of them if you want me to send them to you. I have never seen a bee that looked like that before. They swarm around the front of the bird house in the middle of the afternoon when it is hot. It looks like they have some kind of a cone just inside the opening of the house. So sorry I didn’t give you more information in the beginning, it is the first time I wrote to someone about them! Best Regards,
Linda Robb

Update (05/01/2006)
Eric Eaton provided us with some assistance on this one: ” Ok, the bumblebees should be Bombus melanopygus, if my memory serves. We called them red-tailed bumblebees when I lived in Portland. That is a neat shot, one we could use on Bugguide because we don’t have that species yet.”

Is this a Metallic Sweat Bee?
Dear Bugman,
Is this a metallic sweat bee? I shot the photo at Bailey Tract, Sanibel FL a few days ago. It was feeding on a thistle.
Many thanks,
Susan Van Etten

Hi Susan,
You are correct, this is a Metallic Sweat Bee.

Could you tell me what this bug is please.
I saw this this weekend in South Africa (Where I reside) and would love o know what bug this is.
Many Thanks
Bjorn Behr

Hi Bjorn,
We checked with Eric Eaton who wrote back: “some kind of cuckoo bee, family Apidae (formerly Anthophoridae.” He said he would try to find out the species for us. Here is what he found out: “Ok, the cuckoo bee is in the genus Thyreus, and they are parasites of other bees in the genera Anthophora and Amegilla. There are apparently several species that look nearly identical. Thank goodness for my “Field Guide to Insects of South Africa,” by Mike Picker, Charles Griffiths, and Alan Weaving, 2002, Struik Publishers, 440 pp. Eric “

Hello friends,
Hope all is well with you today. I have a bug to identify. We went up to Mineral King in the Sequoias (California) last year and saw this bee (?) on what looks like a thistle plant. We were at about 8000 feet on the way to the top. A really good looking bug I think. Can you id this one.

Hi Gene,
We wrote to Eric Eaton for an identification. Here is his response: ” Yes, a male eucerini bee (family Apidae, but formerly in Anthophoridae). If pretty early in the spring: Synhalonia. If later, Melissodes or something closely related.”

Can you please help me identify some mystery pollinators
Dear Bugman,
I really appreciate your site and the information that you share, your photos and descriptions have helped me identify several mystery insects, including sweat bees, hover flies and bee killers, and I’m hopping that you might be able to help me identify a few more. I have attached three photographs of separate insects, all of which appear to be pollinators which I have found in my yard. I have recently taken an interest into native pollinators since I have taken up the hobby of beekeeping. I truly admire the labor of these critters, I just wish I could identify them by name. I think I know the identity of two of my submissions, I believe one to be a ‘blue orchard mason bee’, and the other I think is a photograph of two separate ‘leaf cutter bees’, perhapses alfalfa leaf cutters. Both of these apparently solitary insects last spring and summer had taken to laying eggs in a nesting block I installed in my garden.

Leafcutter Bee Orchard Mason Bee

The last picture is of a critter that has me confused as to it’s true identity. This bumble bee sized fly-like creature is pictured on a stevia plant (aka sugar herb), but seems to also like holly and basil flowers, they however completely avoid catnip in bloom, which is odd as it seems to attract every other pollinator I’ve seen in my yard. They seem to be particularly prevalent around my beehive, though this may simply be coincidence. Can you help me identify this last specimen, and confirm my beliefs on the previous too? Any help that you could lend would be much appreciated.
Robert Engelhardt

Hi Robert,
We will post your images of the Orchard Mason Bee and Leafcutter Bee and see if we can get an exact species names for you. Meanwhile, your mystery pollinator is a Beelike Tachnid Fly, Bombyliopsis abrupta. The adults drink nectar, and the larvae are internal parasites on caterpillars.

Update From Eric Eaton
“Yes, the left one is a female Megachile sp., though not the one he thought it was. The right one is a male Osmia sp., no telling which one from the image alone. Both are very nice images. Eric”