Originally found in Africa, the leafcutter bee was introduced to the United States sometime before 1940. It is very well established here now and is the world’s primary pollinator of alfalfa (2/3 of total production), which feeds pigs and dairy cows.
Very diverse group of bees included in lasioglossum genus (largest bee genus of over 1800 species). Most abundant bees in North America. Many are small and display wide ranges of behaviors and colors. Mostly generalist pollinators, most are solitary ground dwelling.
There are over 15 identified species of bumble bees in the Pacific Northwest. Some of the earliest emerging spring bees, bumble bees rely on pollen food sources provided by early blooming plants. Large and fuzzy, various species of bumble bee can be identified by unique stripes of yellow and black and sometimes orange and red.
Unlike large carpenter bees (Xylocopa sp.) that will chew into wood to nest, small carpenter bees will find pre-existing holes in wood material such as twigs and stems. Small metallic, relatively hairless bees, Ceratina spp. are excellent pollinators.
Some miner bees are used in commercial pollination, aiding in the pollination of blueberries, cranberries, apples, and onions.
They are called mining bees due to their penchant for nesting underground under rocks or fallen leaves.
Bumble bees are generalist foragers that live in small colonies underground. They do not make honey because they feed nectar directly to their developing offspring as opposed to honey bees which dehydrate the nectar to create their winter reserves.
A bee lookalike, the syrphid fly or hover fly is another common pollinator that can be found in your garden. They can be distinguished from bees by their single set of wings, large centrally oriented eyes, and a flattened body shape. Pollination by flies is extremely under researched, but they are often regarded as the second most important group of pollinators behind wild bees.
There are about 1400 identified species in the Andrena bee genus. Many live at high elevation and some species can be found in Alaska and northern Canada. These bees have widely diverse behaviors, ranging from generalist pollinators to specialists.
The queen bumble bees are the only individuals that survive through the winter and will find nesting grounds in the spring to begin their new colony.
These bees are cleptoparasites, meaning they lay their eggs inside the nests of other host bees. When the cuckoo bee’s larvae hatch, they will kill the host bee’s egg. The cuckoo larva will then eat the pollen that was provided for the host bee egg and will continue to grow in the host nest until the other offspring of the host bee hatch. These bees most often see parasitizing the nests of mining (Andrena) bees.