Ground nesting green bee

As I’ve said before, there are many many more bees than just honey bees. I recently had a nice interaction with one of my favorite non-honey bees, an Agapostemon bee, otherwise known as a green bee. They are also commonly called sweat bees.

Green bee (Agopostema sp.)

Green bee (Agopostema sp.)

I love these bees for their wonderful color, shallow I know, but I can’t help it. The bee in the picture above is from an insect presentation I gave at the Pacifica Library last year. As the audience was mainly insect loving 4-7 year olds, this flashy insect was a big hit when we caught it in the garden. Anyway, Agapostemon bees nest in the ground, sometimes in aggregate groups. Sometimes females will even share burrows. But unlike honey bees, all the females forage and reproduce. They forage for pollen on nearby flowers, then create pollen balls with which to feed their larvae.

While ground nesting bees are not rare, it is somewhat difficult to locate nests (unless they are marked by structures, but that’s a different topic). However, as I was weeding along the flower bed the other day, I notice some buzz going on around a dirt patch sparsely covered in grass. Upon closer inspection, I found this lovely lady digging a burrow!

Agapostema sp digging a burrow.

Agapostema sp digging a burrow.

And yes, I do know that it is a female. Most male Agapostema sp bees have yellow and black on their abdomens instead of all green like the females. Plus the females are the ones that dig burrows. In the video (also linked above) you can see her really moving some dirt to get all the way underground. After she had fully disappeared into her burrow, this is what it looked like from the top.

Agapostema sp nest

Agapostema sp nest

I watched for a while but she wasn’t interested in coming back out. But a day later another burrow had appeared next to hers! Maybe I’m developing an aggregation of green bees, which would really make me happy.

Many insects are on or near the ground so if you are looking for insects, remember to keep your eyes (and ears) low!


About keviclaire

I recently graduated from the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley. My research interests are focused on biological control and how to increase it's use in agriculture and home gardens. I am also an avid gardener and insect photographer. I'm using this blog as a place to share those interests!

One response to “Ground nesting green bee”

  1. Helen Hill says :

    I love this bee and this information! That purple and green photo is gorgeous.


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