The mining bees in the Andrenidae family are incredibly gentle bees.
According to "Bees: An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide" by Heather Holm, a park in Minneapolis is the home to thousands of Andrena nests each year, but most people have no idea that they are walking right over them. These bees are solitary and busy, so they "have neither time nor inclination to defend their nests."
Another related species, called Aster Andrena, uses sonication to access its nest. They buzz their way through the top layers of sand to find their nest burrow below. It's quite adorable actually.
We may have left the Andrenidae family for last in our native bees series, but that doesn't make these bees any less interesting or worthy.
Andrena are ground nesters, creating burrows in lawns, around house foundations, in fields, in gardens, under plant foliage, in woodland edges and on beaches or shorelines. They are wonderful pollinators, collecting pollen on the hairs of the hind femur and tibia. Most bees appear to gather pollen on their thighs, but these bees carry pollen higher, almost in their armpits.
Andrena range from 5 mm to 18 mm in size, and they are a populus genus. There are 1,541 species found in the world and 500 species in the United States and Canada.
Calliopsis is another species of mining bees in the Andrenidae family. There are fewer species in this genus than in Andrena, with only 86 species worldwide and 68 species in the U.S. and Canada.
Calliopsis are also ground nesters and wonderful pollen collectors. They are common on hoary and blue vervain, and some species specialize on vervain, meaning that they will only forage for pollen on vervain plants. Females rake pollen out of the flower with claws on their forelegs.
Some calliopsis species are also specialists on goldenrod and another on beggarticks.
From bees that plastic-wrap their brood cells to the true sweat bees, native bees are truly incredible and overlooked creatures. We're passionate about protecting them, as well as all of our pollinators.
Check out what we're doing for pollinators in our new Pollinator Paradise addition!
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about native bees, honeybees, butterflies and moths — but did you know that there are plenty of other types of pollinators out there? Hummingbirds Hummingbirds love flowers that are tubular, brightly colored, open during the day and have prolific nectar hidden deeply within. The ruby-throated hummingbird is the…Read More
Do you love blueberries? Then you should love the genus Colletes of native bees! These are one of several types of native bees that collect pollen from both highbush and lowbush blueberry flowers. Colletes validus has an elongated, narrow head that helps it fit into the tight flower opening where it eats nectar and collects pollen that will be transferred…Read More
We’ve all been outside drinking a pop at a picnic, when these little black-and-yellow creatures start flitting around and trying to get into the drink. “Sweat bees,” someone will say, shaking his or her head. “They’re so annoying.” Learning about bees as we put together the bee identification spinner for the new Pollinator Paradise addition,…Read More
You have probably heard the long name neonicotinoids when the topic of struggling bee populations has come up. But what exactly are these chemicals, and what do they have to do with bees? This is a topic that is long, in-depth and still being studied, but we will do our best to break it down…Read More
The numbers of bees in the indoor beehive have gone down. But that’s pretty normal this time of year. It just means that our bees have entered winter mode and are getting ready to survive cold weather. Baby, it’s cold outside. As the weather cools down, a honeybee hive starts to change. One of the…Read More
If you didn’t have bad luck, you wouldn’t have any luck at all. Someone posted this about our osprey nest camera blowing down again this year. We feel kind of the same way. This poor camera has been blown down, hasn’t had enough sun, and when the camera did work last year the osprey chicks…Read More
Save the bees, save the world. That seems like quite a stretch, but really, bees do so much more than people think. As our bee populations slowly decrease thanks to disease, loss of habitat, pesticide use and more, the nation and the world are starting to see the ramifications of these little insects. In the…Read More