The Metallic Green Bee, also known as Agapostemon virescens, is a striking bee species that can be found in gardens throughout the Midwestern and Northeastern United States. With its vibrant green color, this eye-catching insect is not only a fascinating creature to observe but also a vital pollinator for various plants in your garden.
These green bees have a fascinating life cycle, with preferences for specific flowers and a remarkable appearance. Their beautiful metallic hue and dark, transparent wings make them stand out among other bee species. The Metallic Green Bee contributes to the ecosystem and encourages biodiversity by pollinating different types of flowers.
Metallic green bees are generally small to medium in size, typically ranging from 0.2 to 0.5 inches (5 to 12 mm) in length. Their compact size aids them in accessing a variety of flowers for nectar and pollen foraging.
These insects exhibit bright, striking colors that set them apart from other bees. Their hues include:
- Metallic green: A stunning and common color variation found in many species, like the Augochlora pura.
- Blue: Some metallic green bees may have slight bluish undertones or even appear almost blue in certain lighting conditions.
These bees are not only captivating in color but also have distinct physical features.
- Bodies: Metallic green bees have a compact body structure with noticeable hair, giving them a fuzzy appearance.
- Sexual dimorphism: There are some differences between males and females. Males often have longer antennae and slimmer bodies, while females are more robust and have structures for collecting pollen on their hind legs.
Metallic Green Bee vs. Bumblebee
|Feature||Metallic Green Bee||Bumblebee|
|Size||0.2 to 0.5 inches (5-12mm)||Larger, up to 0.9 inches (23mm)|
|Color||Metallic green, blue||Dark brown, black with bright yellow or orange stripes|
|Appearance||Compact, fuzzy body||Round, fuzzy body|
Appealing Traits of Metallic Green Bees:
- Striking coloration
- Efficient pollinators
- Diverse habitat preferences
Species and Distribution
Metallic green bees are found throughout North America, particularly in the United States. One common example is the Agapostemon virescens, a striking green bee which mainly inhabits the Midwestern and Northeastern regions of the country, but can be spotted coast to coast.
Another North American species is the Agapostemon melliventris, found across the United States and parts of Canada.
In South America, one notable metallic green bee species is the Augochlora, which belongs to the family Halictidae.
Similarly, Central America is home to various metallic green bee species. The green carpenter bee, found in tropical regions, is one example.
Here’s a brief overview of these bee species:
|Region||Species Example||Bee Family|
|North America||Agapostemon virescens||Halictidae|
|North America||Agapostemon melliventris||Halictidae|
|Central America||Green Carpenter Bee||Halictidae|
Some key features of metallic green bees are:
- Bright metallic-green coloration
- Varying sizes, often similar to or slightly smaller than a honeybee
- Found in diverse habitats, including gardens and tropical regions
Distinctive characteristics include:
- Ground-nesting or twig-nesting behaviors
- Attraction to various flower types for pollination
- Interaction with other insects and plants in their ecosystems
Habitats and Interactions with Plants
The metallic green bee, also known as Agapostemon virescens, is found predominantly in the Midwestern and Northeastern United States. However, there have been sightings from coast to coast. They reside mainly in gardens, meadows, and open woodlands.
These bees have a liking for native flowering plants, including:
- Aster flowers
- Bee balm
Their attraction to flowers, rich in nectar and pollen, makes them essential pollinators.
The metallic green bee plays an important role in the pollination of various flowering plants. They help in:
- Plant reproduction
- Genetic diversity improvement
- Increased fruit and seed production
A quick comparison of metallic green bees to honeybees:
|Comparison Aspect||Metallic Green Bee||Honeybee|
|Habitat||Gardens, meadows, open woodlands||Beehives, apiaries|
|Pollination Role||Strong pollinators of native plants||Generalist pollinator|
|Social Behavior||Solitary pollinator, single nests||Lives in colonies|
|Behavioral Difference||More likely to visit a variety of plants||Less plant variety|
Being solitary pollinators and visiting numerous plant species, metallic green bees contribute uniquely to plant and flower diversity.
Social Structure and Nesting
Solitary vs. Social Behavior
Metallic green bees are solitary bees, meaning they do not form colonies like honey bees or bumble bees. Each female metallic green bee is responsible for her own nest and offspring. This differs from social bees, which have a division of labor among worker bees, drones, and the queen.
Solitary metallic green bees construct their nests underground in soil, creating tunnels that contain multiple cells. Each cell houses a single developing larva. Nest building is an essential part of the metallic green bee’s life cycle and involves excavating soil and burrowing into the ground.
Mating and Reproductive Habits
- Female bees mate once and store sperm for their entire life.
- Male bees primarily look for females to mate with.
- Males are territorial and protect their chosen flowers.
Female metallic green bees lay eggs in the cells of their nests. Before sealing up each cell, the female provides a mixture of pollen and nectar, which serves as food for the developing larva. Once the larva has consumed this food, it will pupate and eventually emerge as an adult bee with fully developed wings.
Comparing Solitary and Social Bees:
|Feature||Solitary Bee||Social Bee|
|Nesting||Individual nests||Shared colonies|
|Mating||Mate once; females lay their own eggs||Division of labor among caste members|
Threats and Conservation
Metallic Green Bees (Agapostemon virescens) have various predators, including:
- Praying mantises
These predators can significantly impact bee populations.
Pesticides and Human Impacts
Exposure to pesticides, particularly those used in agriculture, poses a significant threat to Metallic Green Bees. For example, neonicotinoids can negatively affect the bees’ ability to forage and reproduce.
Human activities, such as habitat destruction and urbanization, also contribute to the decline of bee populations.
|Human Activity||Habitat Destruction|
Benefits to Ecosystems
Metallic Green Bees are crucial to ecosystems. They are:
- Effective pollinators
- Contributing to the growth of vegetables and fruits
- Support biodiversity in meadows and other environments
Entomologists and other scientists recognize the need for conserving these beneficial insects.
Comparison to Other Bees and Wasps
Carpenter bees are large, shiny, black, and yellow bees. They’re known for drilling holes into wood surfaces. Some key differences between carpenter bees and metallic green bees include:
- Size: Carpenter bees are larger than metallic green bees.
- Color: Carpenter bees are black and yellow, while metallic green bees have bright, metallic-green coloration.
For instance, sawdust piles below perfectly circular holes indicate the presence of carpenter bees, whereas metallic green bees don’t cause such damage.
Orchid bees, belonging to the genus Euglossa, are also bright metallic green. They share similar features with metallic green bees, such as:
- Size: Both bees are roughly the same size, about 1.3 cm in length.
- Color: Both have bright, metallic-green coloration.
However, orchid bees are rare and found mainly in Central and South America, while metallic green bees are found in the United States.
Mason bees belong to the Osmia genus and are small, solitary bees often with metallic coloration. Differences with metallic green bees include:
- Color: Mason bees can have a metallic-blue color, different from the green of metallic green bees.
- Nesting: Mason bees build nests using mud or clay, unlike metallic green bees.
An example can be found in the blue orchard mason bee which is beneficial for pollination.
Differences in Aggression
Comparing aggression levels between bees and wasps:
|Metallic Green Bee||Low|
|Wasps||Moderate to High|
Metallic green bees and other bee species mentioned are generally non-aggressive and focused on pollinating flowers. Wasps and hornets can be more aggressive, especially when their nests are disturbed. They have a smooth body, as opposed to bees’ hairy bodies, and the potential to sting multiple times.
Unique Features and Trivia
Metallic green bees, like many other bee species, are known to collect salt from various sources, such as sweat or soil. They use their proboscis to drink salt-laden liquid, which provides essential nutrients for their body functions. Here are some examples:
- Drinking sweat from human skin
- Gathering salt from the soil surface
Atypical Bee Characteristics
Green sweat bees, such as the honey-tailed striped sweat bee (Agapostemon virescens) and Augochloropsis metallica, exhibit some peculiar traits that set them apart from other bees:
- Generalists: These bees are not picky and can pollinate a wide variety of flowers.
- Winter behavior: Unlike most bees that hibernate or die off during winter, some green sweat bees like Augochloropsis metallica can be found in Florida where they remain active throughout the winter months.
- Parasitic bees: Some metallic green bee species are known as “cuckoo bees” due to their kleptoparasitic behavior, where they lay their eggs in the nests of other bee species.
Below is a comparison table of generalist and specialist bees:
|Trait||Generalist Bees (e.g. Green Sweat Bees)||Specialist Bees|
|Flower preference||Wide variety of flowers||Specific types of flowers|
|Pollination efficiency||May be less efficient||Highly efficient for their preferred flowers|
According to experts, metallic green bees exhibit striking physical features. The head, thorax, and abdomen of these bees are typically covered in vibrant, iridescent green or blue hues. The appearance of metallic green bees can vary slightly based on their species and location.
- Green sweat bees collect salt for their nutritional needs.
- They differ from other bees in their generalist behavior, winter activity, and in some cases, parasitic lifestyles.
- Metallic green bees have a unique, beautiful appearance with iridescent green or blue coloration.
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Metallic Green Bee
Hey there! Some internet research pointed to Agapostemon Texanus – does this sound right? I live in Portland, Oregon and have never seen these before. If it is, it looks like their range is nation wide. These guys appear to be somewhat common on your site.
Also, most sites I’ve seen have been primarily concerned with identification. I’m interested in a bit more, like where they nest, behavioral patterns, etc. Any good links you can recommend? Thanks!
This is a Metallic Green Bee in the genus Agapostemon, but we are not certain the species is texanus. BugGuide shows reports from the west coast of Canada, Washington state and California. Despite now having any submissions from Oregon, we would take an educated guess that Agapostemon texanus can also be found there. Hogue writes: “They nest in tubular burrows dug in the ground, often in clayh banks.”
Letter 2 – Metallic Green Sweat Bee
found this bee?
I am not sure what type or even if this is a bee, but was is a very pretty one, I have noticed them more and more lately, is it a coincidence that these bees(?) started showing up around my yard after for the most part all regular honey bees have pretty much stopped? I have lots of them around, my daughter loves looking at them, also I would like to know if I should be worried about her trying to catch one? Do they sting/bite
This is a Metallic Green Sweat Bee in the family Halictidae. They will sting, but it is very mild. We don’t know what to say about their recent appearance except perhaps you never noticed them before. We have gotten one request recently regarding why these green bees are attracted to purple flowers and your image is just one more example of this common occurrance. Eric Eaton provided this information: “The metallic green sweat bee is a male in the genus Agapostemon. They are common and widespread semi-social bees. Eric”
Letter 3 – Metallic Green Sweat Bee
Subject: Green Orchid Bee
Location: 76016 Arlington, TX
November 29, 2014 2:50 pm
This was taken today in Arlington, TX. We’ve seen several of these today humming around the garden. Temps are unseasonably warm, but will cool down tomorrow.
Signature: Lisa Parisot
To the best of our knowledge, the Green Orchid Bee is not found in Arlington, Texas. It is an introduced species and according to BugGuide it is a member of a: “neotropical group, with 1 sp. established in so. FL and recorded from southernmost TX (Brownsville)” This is a Metallic Green Sweat Bee in the subfamily Halictinae, and you can read more about them on BugGuide where it states: “Most species nest in burrows in banks or in the ground (Augochlora uses partially rotten logs). Some are primitively eusocial; in such cases usually a female guards the entrance to the burrow by plugging it with her head. Generally the main burrow is vertical; it sends horizontal branches, each branch ending in a solitary cell.” It can be very difficult to identify Metallic Green Sweat Bees to the genus or species level from images.
Letter 4 – Green Metallic Bee
wood eater / wood nester?
Good day Bugman,
I live in a log home. I recently found that one of the logs holding up one end of my front porch awning was damaged at its base. I started to pick away at the wood, thinking first it was water damage. As I continued to dig my fingers vertically up through the center of the log, I found a bunch of shiny, greenish, winged bugs with antani on their heads. They are a little over a 1/4" long and 1/16" wide. The look abit like one would think a "green hornet" would look. I thought they were termites, but I looked up termite on google and did not find a photo that matched my bug. Any idea what this bug is?
We believe this is a Green Metallic Bee in the genus Augochlora, in the Halictid Family. According to the Audubon Guide: the “Female digs nest of many branching burrows in dead wood or uses pre-existing borrows of other insects. Female supplies each cell with pollen ball and nectar, and lays an egg on each ball. Larvae or pupae overwinter. Adults emerge in spring.”
Letter 5 – Metallic Green Sweat Bee and her Nest: Plagued by Cleptoparasitic Cuckoo Bee
Subject: Metallic Green Bee or Sweat Bee
Location: Toronto Canada
June 16, 2016 9:39 am
I have had a nest in my garden for about 6 years (it is a no dig zone). Thought I would share a photo with you. Great site! Have an awesome summer.
Signature: Scott Morrow
We love your image of a Metallic Sweat Bee hovering near her nest so much we are going to feature it this month. According to BugGuide, Sweat Bees in the family Halictidae are: “typically ground-nesters, with nests formed in clay soil, sandy banks of streams, etc. Most species are polylectic (collecting pollen from a variety of unrelated plants).” We also want to commend you on your “no dig zone” which will protect the young that are developing in the nest. We wish more of our readers were as sensitive to the environment as you are.
Wow…i am honoured!!
There is a ‘but’ though…I have been seeing small red and black bees landing on the nest site. To the best of my research they may be trying to attack the nest of the green bees (cleptoparasites I think they were called). I don’t like to alter how real life happens but I love my green bees…any suggestions?
We are sorry to hear about your disappointment. We are hoping you are able to provide an image of the “mall red and black bees.” They sound like they might be members of the genus Sphecodes, based on this BugGuide image. According to BugGuide: “Cleptoparasites, usually of other Halictinae.”
My apologies if it came across as being disappointed. I am very happy in fact.
I will try to get a picture but they are quite small and fast to fly away.
Sometimes electronic communication leads to misunderstandings. We interpreted your love for your green bees to mean you were disappointed that they were being Cleptoparasitized by the black and red relatives. On a positive note, we doubt that all of the Green Sweat Bee young will be lost. We eagerly await a potential image of the Cleptoparasite.
Update: June 24, 2016
This is the best I managed to get. The Green Bee guard is blurred but can be seen in the centre of the photo.
Even though I love my Green Bees I will not harm or harass the red ones as this is what nature does.
Be well and have a great buggy summer.
Thanks so much for the update. We are confident that the red bee is a Sweat Bee in the genus Sphecodes which is well represented on BugGuide, though we would not entirely rule out that it might be a Cuckoo Bee, Holcopasites calliopsidis, based on the images posted to Beautiful North American Bees. That would take far more skill than our editorial staff possesses, though according to BugGuide it is a diminutive “5-6 mm”. We will contact Eric Eaton to get his opinion. While we feel for your affection for the Metallic Green Sweat Bees, we do not believe the presence of the red cleptoparasitic Bees will decimate the population of the green bees. Nature has a way of balancing out populations, and when food is plentiful, populations flourish. Your “no dig zone” is diversifying in its inhabitants. To add further information on cleptoparasitism, we turn to BugGuide where it defines: “cleptoparasite (also kleptoparasite) noun – an organism that lives off of another by stealing its food, rather than feeding on it directly. (In some cases this may result in the death of a host, for example, if the larvae of the host are thereby denied food.”
Correction Courtesy of Eric Eaton
The cleptoparasite is a Nomada sp. cuckoo bee. The host bee is Agapostemon virescens, by the way. Never seen a turret on their nest entrance that was so tall! Nomada is a genus in the family Apidae (formerly Anthophoridae).
Ed. Note: When we first responded to the Cleptoparasite response, we suspected we might be dealing with a Cuckoo Bee and we prepared a response with BugGuide quotes including “Wasp-like, often red or red and black and often with yellow integumental markings” and “cleptoparasites of various bees, primarily Andrena but also Agapostemon and Eucera (Synhalonia) (these are usually larger than the Andrena cleptoparasites). (J.S. Ascher, 23.iv.2008) males mimic the specific odors of the host females and patrol the host nest site.” We were going to console Scott with the information that his Green Sweat Bees were most likely being scoped out by male Cuckoo Bees who had not net mated with a female, the real cleptoparasite. Next time we will trust our first impression.
Letter 6 – Metallic Sweat Bee
Orchid Bee in North Carolina?
April 21, 2010
I love your site! I can finally ask someone about the critters I’ve been photographing in my yard. This little green bee was crawling on a lighter on my table one day. It was beautiful and I just had to find out what kind it was. At first I thought it was a Green Metallic Bee, but it didn’t look exactly like one. Then I thought maybe it was an Orchid Bee, but I didn’t think they came as far north as Charlotte, NC. Could you please tell me what kind of bee this is? I’d love to see more of them in my garden. Maybe if I plant their favorite flowers they’ll stick around!
Thanks so much. This site is in my top 10 favorite sites ever!
This is a Metallic Sweat Bee, probably in the genus Augochlorini, though the family Halictidae is quite confusing for us. We matched your bee to a photo on BugGuide. BugGuide also indicates that it is difficult to differentiate between the three genera Ausochlora, Augochlorella and Augochloropsis.Thank you so much for your passionate and complimentary letter. BugGuide indicates that “Adults found on flowers” and they eat “Pollen and nectar and aphid’s honeydew.” Alas BugGuide does not indicate which flowers will attract the Metallic Sweat Bees. Here in Los Angeles, we see them on cardoon or wild artichoke, Cynara cardunculus. These large thistles have a reputation as invasive exotic plants that compromise our native habitat, but like so many problematic species, they have some endearing qualities, including that they are edible. Here is an excerpt of a piece we wrote on the cardoon in the Mount Washington Homeowners Alliance newsletter in January 2010: “Perhaps a better and tastier way to control the population of the Cardoon is to eat it. The buds are much smaller than traditional artichokes, though they can be prepared in a similar manner before they open. The more feasible part of the plant to eat though is the midrib of the leaf that tastes much like the traditional artichoke. The website www.gardening-guy.com has several recipes for the preparation of Cardoon, including a dish called bagna cauda that translates loosely to “hot bath” and involves spearing and cooking cubes of beef and other vegetables in hot oil in a manner similar to fondue. I plan to pick some of the leaves growing on “dirt” Burnell this spring and steaming them to eat with aioli, that is unless one of you readers beats me to the harvest.” Other plants that will attract Metallic Sweat Bees include Echinacea and any of the composite flowers like Rudbeckia, cosmos, sunflowers and daisies.
Thank you so much for clearing that up for me and for the awesome information on the types of plants that would attract the Metallic Sweat Bee. I’m delighted that the Echinacea, Sunflowers, Daisies and Cosmos I planted in my garden this year will bring more of them around! I haven’t seen any wild artichoke anywhere but as it is an invasive species, that is probably a good thing. I’ve been careful to only plant natives in my garden, so hopefully the Echinacea and others will be enough to keep the little guys busy.
Thank you again for responding – and so promptly too! You guys are the BEST!
Correction courtesy of John Ascher
April 22, 2012
Letter 7 – Bug of the Month September 2017: Metallic Green Sweat Bee
Subject: Metallic Green Sweat Bee
Geographic location of the bug: Powhatan, VA
Time: 10:40 AM EDT
I have lived in this area for many years and never noticed this type of bee. My fiance’ planted an African Blue Basil plant that is flourishing and it had a couple dozen of these bees all over it for several days. Quickly identified it through your site. Now I’m hooked on looking up the bugs we have around here. Thank you for the work you do putting this site together.
How you want your letter signed: Mike Talbert – Powhatan, VA
We were hoping we would find a gorgeous image of an insect we have never featured as Bug of the Month this morning, and your submission is perfect. Your enthusiasm over sighting this Metallic Green Sweat Bee is refreshing, and your image makes a gorgeous Bug of the Month for September, 2017. Metallic Green Sweat Bees seem to be attracted to purple flowers.
Letter 8 – Green Metalic Bee
This wasp was found on Tybee Island, GA. It was an extremely cold and windy day, it was hidden among these flowers. Any idea what it is?
This is not a wasp, but a Green Metallic Bee or Halictid Bee in the genus Agapostemon.
Letter 9 – Leaf Cutter Bee and Metallic Green Sweat Bee in Mount Washington
Leaf Cutter Bee gathers Pollen
Location: Mount Washington, Los Angeles, CA
We have been spending part of the day in the garden tending to things and taking photos of insects. We managed to capture a single photo of one of the wary Leaf Cutter Bees that has been gathering pollen from the Rudbeckia that is currently blooming. We have seen them in the past on Rudbeckia as well as Cosmos, but for some reason, we have no more Cosmos and we haven’t tried planting more seeds in recent years. The awesome thing about the Leaf Cutter Bees is that they gather pollen on the underside of their abdomens.
We also managed to get a single shot of this equally wary Metallic Green Sweat Bee before it flew off. Seems when we don’t have the camera handy, there are three or four Metallic Green Sweat Bees buzzing around the Rudbeckia and they let us get very close, but as soon as the camera appears, off they go.
Letter 10 – Metallic Green Bee
Metallic Green Wasp
Hi Daniel and Lisa,
My boys and I rescued two wasp-like creatures from our pool today. The first dried off and took off before I could get any pictures. I did manage to get a couple of shots of the second one before it was able to fly away. I’ve looked through your wasp pages and didn’t really find an exact match. The cuckoo wasp seemed to match the closest, but not quite. There didn’t seem to be any metallic green on the abdomen of my specimens, mostly black with white stripes. I’ve looked through one of my field guide’s to insects and thought the virescent green metallic bee could possibly be a match. The bee (or wasp, or fly) in question wasn’t very big… only about 2cm in length. Any thoughts? Thanks again!
Barrie , Ontario
(06/12/2007) Halictid Bee Hi Daniel and Lisa,
I just got word from Eric Eaton from Bug Guide that my creature is ” Probably a species in the genus Agapostemon, but a halictid in any event.”. I’ve since looked up the Halictid Bee on the web and found many images that match my insect.
Sorry we didn’t get back to you fast enough before Eric Eaton came to the rescue and identified you Metallic Green Bee.
Letter 11 – Metallic Green Bee
Greetings from FL, I have a few unidentified bugs im dying to identify… Can you please help me?
I live on the island of St. Pete Beach, Fl… In my spare time I photograph wildlife… And I am losing sleep (as well as $6.00 per hour at an internet cafe) over a few unidentified creatures… Whats that bug is awesome!!! It has helped me identify quite a few species already… except for a few… Hope you can get some use out of my photographs… This is my first time posting… KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK!!!!
ps… I have a collection of identified insects that I will send you soon…
We are guessing you are no longer online as your flurry of emails has abated. This is a Metallic Green Bee in the genus Agapostemon, in the Sweat Bee family Halictidae. We applaud your enthusiasm if this is your first visit to our site, be we really haven’t the time nor the wherewithall to attend to all of your identification requests in your numerous emails. We would advise you to limit your requests to one or two per day, or even per week. As you have done, continue to limit your requests to one specimen per email. Try to provide us with additional information on the images rather than using a “form” email for all of the requests. Thanks for your enthusiastic interest. If you return to our site after your photo has been removed from the homepage (where letters remain for from a few days to a few weeks depending upon several criteria) you will find it filed in the archive on our Bee 2 page.
Thanks for your time, Im glad you picked my photo out of the countless submissions you must get…
This is my first time with any internet forum, I will come back when my etiquete is honed… I spoke to a volunteer that works with you yesterday, I understand now the magnitude of letters you must recieve… And I just want to say, Thank you for taking time out of your day to stop and look at my pictures… I admire what you do, and to be able to keep up with it along with having to work, thats amazing… I consider myself lucky to have been picked amongst the hundreds of emails you must recieve…. Do keep up the good work, your site is amazing… Im off to Clam Bayou to take more pictures… I found Bug Guide yesterday as well, so I’ll try to not to burden your mailbox too much, I promise… Thanks for picking my photo!!!!
Hi again Deacon,
We are mortified that you thought we were calling your sense of etiquette into question. Your online etiquette is pitch perfect. It is just that the shear volume of your requests left us feeling overwhelmed. We are glad you discovered BugGuide, a forum where the burden of posting is placed upon the querant, and not the staff.
Letter 12 – Metallic Green Bee
Location: Maine USA
September 5, 2010 2:06 pm
Caught a picture of this odd looking wasp in the spring. I’ve been unable to identify it so I thought I would send it your way.
Signature: D Ramsey Ballard III
Dear D Ramsey Ballard III,
The reason you have been experiencing difficulty in identifying your insect is that it is a bee, not a wasp, more specifically a Metallic Sweat Bee in the family Halictidae (see BugGuide). It appears to be a Metallic Green Bee in the genus Agapostemon which has numerous members that look very similar and which is found “coast to coast throughout United States and southern Canada also occurs in Central and South America” according to BugGuide. We believe it may be Agapostemon virescens based on the striping pattern of the abdomen, the range of the species, and an image posted to BugGuide.
Letter 13 – Metallic Green Sweat Bee
Subject: Sweat Bees
Location: Baldwin Hills in Los Angeles, CA
July 18, 2012 8:32 pm
Hi! Last year we noticed a few all-green metallic sweat bees in our garden (burrowing – sent you the pics). Now we’re seeing a different type of sweat bee: smaller with a green metallic head and thorax; black-and-yellow striped abdomen. They love the blooming artichoke. There’s a skipper in one shot, to provide perspective.
This is another Sweat Bee in the family Halictidae, and we believe it is most likely in the genus Agapostemon based on the photos posted to BugGuide. We will see if your Metallic Green Sweat Bee submitted last year is in our archive. Back then you thought it might be Agapostemon texanus and females of that species are all green while males have striped abdomens according to BugGuide images. We would say that chances are last year you photographed a female and this year a male. We also find these Green Metallic Sweat Bees on cardoons, a wild member of the artichoke family, in our Mt Washington, Los Angeles neighborhood.
Letter 14 – Metallic Green Sweat Bee
Subject: White bee with green on head
Location: Los Angeles
July 13, 2017 10:19 am
Found this here at my house in Los Angeles what???
Love to send a picture.
Signature: Linda Holler
Letter 15 – Metallic Green Sweat Bee from Canada
Subject: Not a Fly
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
August 12, 2017 2:42 pm
Like most, I stumbled upon your website looking for the identity of a little buddy I found lazily buzzing through my office.
At first, I thought it was a green bottle fly, but on closer inspection its head resembles that of a wasp’s. It’s also much slower than a housefly–its movements are sluggish in comparison and it seems a lot calmer in general. Even as I type this, it makes no effort to escape it’s tiny (albeit temporary) prison.
Whenever possible, I try to catch and release bugs that end up trapped in my car, home, or office. As such, I applaud your stance on extermination, and appreciate this service you offer the public. It’s nice to see folks passionate about a subject, but it’s even more spectacular when said folks share that passion with others. Thank and keep up the great work!
Thank you for your kind words. You are correct that this is NOT a fly. This is a Green Metallic Sweat Bee in the family Halictidae, but we do not have the necessary skills to provide a definite species. According to BugGuide: “Typically ground-nesters, with nests formed in clay soil, sandy banks of streams, etc. Most species are polylectic (collecting pollen from a variety of unrelated plants)” and “A few species are attracted to sweat, and will sometimes sting if disturbed, though the sting is not very painful.”
Letter 16 – Metallic Green Sweat Bees and Nest in Canada
Subject: Mettalic Green Bee, Nest and Guard
Location: Toronto Canada
June 29, 2016 6:35 pm
Could not resist sending you one more photo of my bees. hope you do not mind.
Signature: Scott Morrow
Hi again Scott,
This new image of Metallic Green Sweat Bees, Agapostemon virescens, is a marvelous addition to the previously sent images, and it is greatly welcomed on our site.
Letter 17 – Metallic Sweat Bee
Is this a Metallic Sweat Bee?
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.
Susan Van Etten
You are correct, this is a Metallic Sweat Bee.
Letter 18 – Metallic Sweat Bee
Location: “Dirt” Burnell, Mount Washington, Los Angeles, CA
We found this beautiful Sweat Bee busily gathering honey and pollen from a wild artichoke in the canyon today. These are solitary bees with metallic green bodies. They nest in a tubular burrow dug in the ground, often in clay banks. They are members of the genus Augochlorella.
ed. Note: (09/06/2004) Eric just wrote in: “The metallic sweat bee is probably an Agapostemon sp. rather than whatever the current name on it is, but they are hard to separate without the specimen in hand.”
(06/07/2004) Are we really a USA Today Hot Site?
Saw your web site – Hot Site from USA Today.
Just shot this last weekend.. The bees were going crazy over this bush in my yard.. Didn’t mind me one bit. It was amazing to me to see how much this bee had stuck to it.
Thanks for the Honey Bee photo John.
Letter 19 – Metallic Sweat Bee
Metallic Green Insect
May 24, 2010
Curious to know what this handsome bug is–his most outstanding feature is his vivid green color.
Joshua, Texas (South Fort Worth)
There are several genera of Sweat Bees in the family Halictidae that have green metallic coloration, and we really haven’t the necessary skills to differentiate the genera much less the species. BugGuide breaks down the categories quite nicely should you choose to pursue additional research.
Letter 20 – Metallic Sweat Bee
Half wasp, half bee
Location: Phoenix, AZ
August 27, 2011 10:04 am
So I look up, and there are 20 of these in my kitchen. I’m in Phoenix, AZ, its August, they can fit on my pinky nail, very small, iridescent green thorax and head, abdomen is striped black and yellow like a bee. Its hard to tell if its a wasp or a bee, but the morphology tells me bee. Any info would be appreciated, Thanks!
Identification courtesy of John Ascher
April 22, 2012
Letter 21 – Metallic Sweat Bee
Green Bee or Wasp
Location: Northeast Florida
September 11, 2011 11:42 am
I saw this bee (or wasp) on our Mexican Petunias today in northeast FL. It has a bright green head and thorax, and a black and yellow striped abdomen. I looked for information here and on BugGuide and found the Metallic Green Bee (Agapostemon splendens) which looks like my bee. However the size is listed as approximately 10-11mm. The Mexican Petunia flower is 2” wide, about 50mm, and this bee looks larger than 10-11 mm on the flower, doesn’t it? Can you help?
We agree that this appears to be a Metallic Sweat Bee in the genus Agapostemon, but we cannot identify the species for certain. BugGuide does not list a size range on the genus page. Your individual looks very much like this photo from BugGuide and it is listed as being between 1 and 2 centimeters.
Thank you for your help! The photo you referred me to does look like the bee I saw, and the size range of up to 2 cm seems more in line with the actual size of my bee. I enjoy your website very much–I’ve learned a lot since I found it, and I appreciate all you do. I’m a special education teacher and I’m hoping to use What’s That Bug with my students later on this school year–I think they’ll be fascinated.
Identification courtesy of John Ascher
April 22, 2012
definitely an A. splendens male.
Letter 22 – Metallic Sweat Bee
Subject: What are these bees?
Location: Cleveland, OH
September 11, 2013 5:47 pm
These guys have been all over my rose mallow flowers for the last few days in the evening (5-7pm). They zip around quickly until they decide on a flower, spend about 10-20 seconds inside, and emerge covered in pink pollen. They are about 3/4 inch long. They don’t seem to be very interested in the other kinds of flowers in the yard. This is in Cleveland, OH, about a half mile from Lake Erie, on the side of the house facing the lake. It has also been very warm here for the last couple of days — upper 80/lower 90 temps. Thanks very much for your help!
This is a Metallic Sweat Bee in the family Halictidae. There are numerous species that look quite similar. See BugGuide for additional information. Here is a Metallic Sweat Bee sent in exactly two years ago that reminds us very much of your image.
Hi again, I do think I’ve now managed to identify these as Metallic Sweat Bees, thanks to your wonderfully informative site.
Letter 23 – Metallic Sweat Bee
Subject: green bee
Location: Denver CO
June 8, 2014 12:17 pm
There has appeared in my buffalo grass lawn several dirt mounds that at first seem to be larger steep ant hills, but today I saw these colorful bees going in and out. Are they natives?
These beautiful, little, native bees are known as Metallic Sweat Bees, most likely in the genus Agapostemon, based on images posted to BugGuide. Of the subfamily Halictinae, BugGuide notes: “Most species nest in burrows in banks or in the ground (Augochlora uses partially rotten logs). Some are primitively eusocial; in such cases usually a female guards the entrance to the burrow by plugging it with her head. Generally the main burrow is vertical; it sends horizontal branches, each branch ending in a solitary cell.” One of your images illustrates a Metallic Sweat Bee flying toward a hole that has its opening plugged by the head of another bee.
OK, I guess I have seen both small and larger sweat bees in the yard. I’ll try to get some better photos. I’m seeing several different kinds of bumblebees also.
Thank you Daniel,
Wonderful Daniel! I noticed that each opening of the three or four there would often have a bee in it, I kept waiting to try to get a good picture, but they would duck back down. I have lots of mostly native flowers blooming in my yard right now, it is delightful to get native insects too.
I always thought sweat bees, or what we called sweat bees, were not as large as these. These are closer to the size of honey bees ( though these in the picture are smaller than honey bees) . Sorry I didn’t have anything to compare it to in the picture.
Thank you for your good work,
Some species of Sweat Bees are quite small. Bee Informed lists their size range as between 1/4 and 3/4 inch.
Letter 24 – Metallic Sweat Bee
Subject: Metalic Green Bee (Agapostemon)
Geographic location of the bug: Central Mississippi
Time: 03:38 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hi! I got this lovely picture with my macro lens – thought you might like to add it to the page for this bee! 🙂
How you want your letter signed: Elizabeth
Thanks for sending in your lovely image of a Metallic Sweat Bee. We generally don’t even attempt to identify them beyond the subfamily Halictinae because we don’t have the necessary skills to differentiate them further.
Letter 25 – Metallic Sweat Bee Colony
Subject: Metallic green bee
Geographic location of the bug: Belton South Carolina
Time: 01:04 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I saw these metallic green and yellow bees on the ground over pile of dirt. What I thought was yellow now I’m thinking that it might be just pollen. But they are not a type of bee that we’ve ever seen around here. Hoping you can help me identify them and wondering if they sting.
How you want your letter signed: Brenda Bryant
These appear to be Metallic Green Sweat Bees in the family Halicitidae, and though they are solitary bees, they sometimes nest in colonies. According to BugGuide: “Typically ground-nesters, with nests formed in clay soil, sandy banks of streams, etc. Most species are polylectic (collecting pollen from a variety of unrelated plants).” BugGuide also notes: “A few species are attracted to sweat, and will sometimes sting if disturbed, though the sting is not very painful.”
Letter 26 – Metallic Sweat Bees
A couple for you . .
I love your nickname. I know (by Internet) a retired priest who’s nickname is the same because he does bugs for fun too! We live in western South Dakota just east of Rapid City, NOT in the Black Hills. I have two for you, one I think I have identified from your web site as metallic green bees, pollinating our sunflowers. They were everywhere when our sunflowers were in full spate! The other is a mystery – the closest I have gotten is that by “insect definitions” (which I know very little about) is that this is some kind of fly because it only has one pair of wings. There are actually two pictures taken on different days. Both were sucking on early sunflowers along with some (YOW!) yellowjacket wasps which I manged to avoid, phew! The closest on your site was a Bee Fly, and these were definitely not eating bees! These pretty much ignored me as when I took these macros, they did not move! One appears to onlt have on set of legs, but the second picture reveals three pairs. Bless you for a fantasic site, and not just for kids!!!
Diane in South Dakota
You sent us three copies of the Metallic Sweat Bees in the genus Agapostemon. The photo is wonderful.
Letter 27 – Metallic Sweat Bees
Location: Southwest Los Angeles, CA
August 15, 2011 1:06 am
Saw two of these iridescent green bees yesterday. They burrowed in the soil below our fig tree and did lots of hovering in the vicinity. They were no more than 1/2” in length. One had pollen, the other didn’t. I’m guessing halictidae agapostemon texanus… but would love for the experts to weigh in. Thank you!
We agree that you have photographed Metallic Sweat Bees in the family Halictidae, but we are very reluctant to agree to a species or even a genus identification of this confusing family. We are especially thrilled with your photo that shows a Metallic Sweat Bee digging. According to BugGuide, the are: “Typically ground-nesters, with nests formed in clay soil, sandy banks of streams, etc. Most species are polylectic (collecting pollen from a variety of unrelated plants)”
Your photos are an excellent addition to our website.
Identification courtesy of John Ascher
April 22, 2012
Letter 28 – Virescent Green Metallic Bee
>Green metallic sweat bee?
On or about 6/20/06 while digging in my backyard, Sammamish, Washington (just east of Seattle) I saw this new to me bee. You great website leads me to believe it is a green metallic sweat bee. I did not see any postings from the pacific NW.
Larry Hart, Sammamish, WA
Virescent Green Metallic Bees range, according to Audubon: “from Quebec and Maine to Florida, west to Texas; also Oregon to British Columbia.” We also see them in Los Angeles.
Letter 29 – Virescent Green Metallic Bee
From your website it seems I have photographed a "Metallic Sweat Bee". This was taken 10/7/04 in West Greenwich Rhode Island. I have lived in this area for 40 years and never seen one. Is this appearance the result of the recent hurricanes?
Nice photo of one of the metallic sweat bees, probably the Virescent Green Metallic Bee, Agapostemon virescens. Yours is a female. Female bees have the abdomen ringed in white and males in yellow. They range from Quebec to Florida, west to Texas, and also Oregon. For nests, they dig burrows in bare and sandy soil. Adults drink nectar, but collect pollen to feed the young.