Our planet is home to over 20,000 different types of bees. Of course there’s the classic honey bee and bumble bee. But how many more can you name? Keep reading to discover 10 lesser known and absolutely fascinating bee species.
1. THE MASON BEE
Even if you haven’t heard of the mason bee, you’ve likely had one buzzing in your backyard. They are native to North America and one of the most common solitary bees. They are the ones most likely to nest in your wild bee home.
The mason bee’s claim to fame is that it is one of the most effective pollinators. Just one mason bee can do the pollination work of over 100 honey bees! This is thanks to their “belly flopping” technique. By belly flopping onto the flower, mason bees can gather all the loose pollen into the little hairs on their abdomen.
2. THE VULTURE BEE
Native to South and Central America, the vulture bee gets its name from its unique dietary choice: animal carcasses. They’ve even been nicknamed “zombie bees”. They are stingless, but can bite using their strong mandibles.
The vulture bee regurgitates the proteins of the meat it eats into its own version of honey. The brave souls who have tasted this honey describe the flavor as intense, smoky, salty, and sweet.
3. THE SQUASH BEE
The squash bee is native to Central and South America, but you can often find them wherever squash grows. They specialize in pollinating squash flowers and nest underground near the plants, making their morning commute an easy one.
They pollinate early in the morning when the squash flowers are in bloom. Then they return to their nests when the flowers close up. Male squash bees are known to take naps inside the flowers, forcing them to chew their way out after.
4. THE PANTALOON BEE
Found from Great Britain all the way to China, the pantaloon bee wins best dressed every time. It gets its name from its large fuzzy hind legs. These legs come in handy for collecting pollen and brushing away sand as they dig out their nests.
The pantaloon bee is a solitary bee, but they are known to group their nests close together. In Russia, there is a group of over 7 million pantaloon bee nests along the banks of the Barysh River.
5. THE GIANT ASIAN HONEY BEE
The giant Asian honey bee looks a lot like Western honey bees, but it’s almost twice the size. They are also much more aggressive. They are considered one of the most dangerous animals in Southeast Asia.
They migrate seasonally, building combs and honey reserves in different locations as they travel. Another key difference between the giant Asian honey bee and most other honey bees is that they will forage at night, as long as the moon is bright enough.
6. THE BLUE CARPENTER BEE
Only female blue carpenter bees have the stunning blue color. The males are green or brown. These tiny creatures can chew through an inch of wood each day. But when possible, they prefer to find pre-existing holes to make their nests.
7. THE BUTTERCUP BLOOD BEE
The buttercup blood bee gets its from its bright red abdomen. But its nesting habits live up to its violent name. Rather than building her own nest, a female blood bee will enter the nest of another bee, kill the eggs, and lay one of her own.
8. THE TEDDY BEAR BEE
The teddy bear bee is found in Africa, Asia, and Australia. It is a generalist pollinator but has a special love for pink and purple flowers. “Teddy bear bee” is a nickname to refer to all bees from the genus Amegilla.
Female teddy bear bees nest in the ground while males rest in “sleeping clusters”, clinging to plant stems with their jaws.
9. THE PURE GREEN SWEAT BEE
The pure green sweat bee is native to Eastern Canada and the United States. Its name comes from the fact that it is attracted to the salt in human sweat.
Female pure green sweat bees are fiercely protective of their nests, even evicting their newly hatched daughters.
10. THE SPRING BEAUTY MINING BEE
Native to North America, this bee gets its name from its favorite flower to pollinate: the Virginia spring beauty.
The spring beauty mining bee follows strict working hours. They sleep until around 10am when it’s warm enough to fly and finish foraging by 2pm. They end each work day back in their nests where they seal themselves in with their brood.