Currently viewing the category: "Mining Bees"
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Subject: Mystery Wasp?
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
May 26, 2014 12:55 pm
Hi, I have been a big fan of your site for many years! There is some type of ground-burrowing wasp with blue wings that makes a nest in my yard every year. I usually see activity (little piles of dirt) around May, and by June or so it always seems like the nest is abandoned, and I never see any more signs of life until the following year. The nest spot in the ground is a patch about 2′ x 2′ with multiple holes.
This year, the nest seems larger, and there has been lots of activity. The creatures are about 1″ long, have blue wings, black bodies, and fat legs – especially the “hind” legs.
So far, they do not seem to be aggressive, but I would love to find out more about them.
Thanks!
Signature: Harry

Dusky Winged Andrena

Dusky Winged Andrena

Dear Harry,
We believe these are Mining Bees in the genus
Andrena, and the closest match we were able to locate on BugGuide, from nearby Virginia, is the Dusky Winged Andrena, Andrena obscuripennis.

Dusky Winged Andrena

Dusky Winged Andrena

Dusky Winged Andrena

Dusky Winged Andrena

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Mining Bees in Elyria Canyon Park
Location:  Elyria Canyon Park, Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
May 18, 2014 11:00 AM
So, walking back from the Elyria Canyon Work Party this morning, I was tasked with taping off the Indian Milkweed above the ranger station, and upon getting ready to leave, I noticed small perfectly round holes, slighting smaller in diameter than a standard pencil, in the hard packed earth of the trail.

Mining Bee Holes

Chimney Bee Holes

I thought if I was patient, I might get to see the tenants.  After several minutes, I heard a buzzing and watched a small winged creature disappear into one of the holes.  I eventually got images of a Mining Bee’s head, several images of a Mining Bee excavating with only the abdomen showing, and an image of a pollen ball that has been gathered by the bee.

Head of a Mining Bee preparing to exit

Head of a Chimney Bee preparing to exit

According to BugGuide:  “Female digs long branching tunnel in soil, prepares brood cell at the end of each branch, and stocks cells with pollen balls and nectar. 1 egg is laid on pollen ball in each cell, then cell is sealed. Larvae develop rapidly and pupate in cells. 1 generation a year.”  BugGuide also states:  “Many small, ground-nesting bees observed in areas of sandy soil are members of the family, Andrenidae. Characteristics of this family (of which there are approximately 3000 species) are: Small size, 20 mm, (or smaller) brown to black in color, and nesting in a burrow in areas of sparse vegetation, old meadows, dry road beds, sandy paths. Although the nests are built in close proximity of one another, the bees are solitary (each female capable of constructing a nest and reproducing). Many species are active in March and April when they collect pollen and nectar from early spring blooming flowers. The female bee digs a hole 2-3 inches deep excavating the soil and leaving a pile on the surface. She then digs a side tunnel that ends in a chamber (there are about 8 chambers per burrow). Each chamber is then filled with a small ball of pollen and nectar. An egg is laid on the top of each pollen ball and the female seals each brood chamber. The emerging larval bees feed on the pollen/nectar ball until they pupate.”

Mining Bee excavating

Chimney Bee excavating

Now that I was made aware of the nests on the trail, I saw several other areas that evidenced the development of a Colony of Mining Bees.  The Mining Bees are very quick and wary, and it was impossible to capture an image of the full body of an individual.

Mining Bee Excavating

Chimney Bee Excavating

Comment from Clare Marter Kenyon
so good to know they are still around. the last place i saw them was on the pathway from the barn to the trail half way to elyria!
NICE! c.

Pollen Ball of a Mining Bee

Pollen Ball of a Chimney Bee

I explored looking for bush lupine – going along dirt glenalbyn and then from Westpoint hiking down and am sorry to say I could not find any plants.
I did see some coffee berry though
Lynnette

Update:  The following comment just arrived on another posting, referring to this posting.
January 16, 2016
Also, in regards to the archived post, I think those are actually Diadasia (unaware of a common name), and not mining bees (genus Andrena). What a cool find, impressive since it’s so tiny!

Following up on this comment, we learned on BugGuide that the genus Diadasia is in the subfamily Emphorini, Chimney Bees.  This BugGuide posting looks very similar. 

 

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Hitchhiking Bee?
Location: Andover, NJ
April 22, 2014 5:38 am
I am hoping that you might be able to shed some light on this very peculiar behavior. I was photographing bees in our yard yesterday (our cherry trees just started blooming) and was excited to see my first carpenter bee of the season – then I realized that he had a passenger. The second bee was hanging tight to the carpenter’s back. The carpenter traveled around to some daffodils, seemingly not bothered by the passenger. Then, a third bee (and third species from what I could tell) flew in and appeared to attack the first bee. All three bees separated and flew off. The carpenter didn’t appear to be injured.
I’ve never seen anything like this and really hope that you might be able to tell me what it all meant.
Signature: Deborah Bifulco

Eastern Carpenter Bee carrying passenger Bee

Eastern Carpenter Bee carrying passenger Bee

Hi Deborah,
We must confess that we are uncertain what is going on in your images, which are quite detailed.  The Eastern Carpenter Bee is a male as evidenced by his light face.  We will send your images to Eric Eaton to see if he can identify the hitchhiking bee and to see if he has any idea what this behavior indicates.

Thanks, Daniel.  I am completely baffled by the behavior and the only plausible explanation I’ve been able to come up with is that perhaps the smaller bee was after pollen?  Hope Eric can shed some light on it.
By the way, I just got your book and am really enjoying it!
Debbi

Male Eastern Carpenter Bee carries passenger Bee

Male Eastern Carpenter Bee carries passenger Bee

Eric Eaton provides an identification and a hypothesis!!!
Daniel:
Looks like a male Andrena mining bee, perhaps trying to chase the male carpenter bee out of its territory?  That’s the only explanation I can think of.
Eric

Unknown Bee riding on male Eastern Carpenter Bee

Unknown Bee riding on male Eastern Carpenter Bee

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
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