What was that foraging on a pink iceplant blossom near a path to the ocean? A metallic green sweat bee, Agapostemon texanus, also called an ultra green sweat bee.
We usually don't see A. texanus unless it's spring or summer, but there it was, out of season. Or rather, there "he" was. Males and females are easily distinguishable. The female is solid green, from head to thorax to abdomen, while the green coloration on the male appears on the head and thorax.
We remember pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp (1933-2019) emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, talking about them. He delighted in seeing them at his monitoring site, the Department of Entomology and Nematology's Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis campus. The Agapostemon are members of the Halictinae family. They are often called "sweat bees" because they are attracted to human sweat, probably for the salt.
Green sweat bees are among the bees featured in the book, "California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists," co-authored by the University of California team of Gordon Frankie, UC Berkeley; Robbin Thorp, UC Davis; and UC Berkeley affiliates Rollin Coville (photographer and entomologist) and Barbara Ertter (plant specialist). Frankie, Thorp, Coville and Ertter (and others) also published "Native Bees Are a Rich Natural Resource in Urban California Gardens" in California Agriculture.
When Irish eyes are smiling, it could be...
St. Patrick's Day is approaching or
A green insect is nearby
If you've ever seen the female metallic green sweat bee, Agapostemon texanus, or the sand wasp, Bembix americana, you can't help but think about the "Wearing of the Green." They're especially "fashionable" on St. Patrick's Day.
The female metallic green sweat bee, Agapostemon texanus, is green. The males are partly green; their head and thorax are green, but not their abdomen.
And the sand wasp, Bembix americana, who isn't mesmerized by those green eyes? (They might be smiling, too, on St. Patrick's Day, March 17).
Wishing you a pot of gold and all the joy your heart can hold. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
On St. Patrick's Day, we see green. We crave green. We wear green.
And the penalty for not wearing green? You get pinched.
Not so with green sweat bees. As their common name implies, they're green. A metallic green. But no pinching allowed!
The green sweat bee, Agapostemon spp., is an unforgettable bee. The females are metallic green, from head to thorax to abdomen. The males, however, are "half green"; they have green heads and thoraxes, but yellow-and-black striped abdomens.
In California, Agapostemon texanus is widespread and common, according to the authors of the card set, Common Bees in California Gardens, published by the University of California Agriculture and Nature Resources. It's the work of UC Berkeley and UC Davis entomologists, including Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomolgy and Nematology. It's a companion to the book, California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists.
The card set, illustrated with photos and filled with facts, features 24 bees. This will give you a head start in identifying California's 1600 species of native bees--and inspire you to learn more.
Meanwhile you can learn about the distribution, flight season, nesting habits, floral hosts and how each bee species transports pollen.
How to order: You can order online ($15 per book) on this website, http://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/Details.aspx?itemNo=3552
Meanwhile, keep a lookout for green sweat bees. Their flight season is from March into October, but their peak flight activity occurs from May into September. We've seen them on Cosmos and Rudbeckia (sunflower family) and Erigeron (daisy family).
Not on St. Patrick's Day, though.
Did you feel the buzz in 2015?
The honey bees, bumble bees, sunflower bees, sweat bees...what a year it was!
It's time to walk down memory lane--or stray from the garden path--and post a few bee images from 2015.
It wasn't all flowers and sunshine. Bees took a beating--from pesticides, pests, predators, diseases, malnutrition, climate change and stress.
Often it was predator vs. prey. So we include an image of a praying mantis feasting on one of our bee-loved honey bees, and freeloader flies (family Milichiidae) dining on a spider's prey.
That's what praying mantids, spiders and freeloader flies do. They. Eat. Bees. If I were in charge of their menu planning and food preparation, however, they'd get five-star dining: stink bugs, aphids, mosquitoes, cotton whitefly, and the Asian longorned beetle.
Give me five! Give us all five!
Happy New Year! And may the buzz be with you.
The vibrant colors of Cosmos, an annual flower with the same common name as its genus, are spectacular. But we especially like the showstopping pink Cosmos with its bright yellow center.
Well, sometimes, they have a green center--that's when an ultra green sweat bee is foraging.
The female Agapostemon texanus is solid green, from head to thorax to abdomen, while the male of the species has a solid green head and thorax. It begs to differ with its abdomen; it's striped yellow and black, as if an artist ran out of green paint.
Agapostemon texanus is one of the bees featured in California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists, the work of UC Berkeley-affiliated scientists Gordon W. Frankie, Robbin W. Thorp, Rollin E. Coville, and Barbara Ertter. Thorp, a distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, received his doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley, so there's the Berkeley angle!
If you want to learn more about native bees, check out Native Bees Are a Rich Natural Resource in Urban California Gardens, published by Frankie, Thorp, Coville and Ertter (and others) in California Agriculture.
Another good source is the UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab, directed by Professor Frankie. It has an easy to remember URL: http://www.helpabee.org/.
Meanwhile, how green is your Cosmos?