|Metallic Sweat Bees feeding on a Greenheaded Coneflower|
Male solitary bees also fend for themselves and are efficient pollinators by the way, unlike male (drone) honeybees. They have no one to feed them other than themselves and so visit flowers and pollinate plants much like the females. No male bees of any species (or wasps for that matter) can sting either, since stingers are modified ovipositors (egg layers) and males cannot lay eggs of course. Only female bees sting.
|Ground nesting bees and their holes|
|Hibiscus Bee Ptilothrix bombiformis, digging her burrow|
The one shown above is usually called the Hibiscus Bee, Ptilothrix bombiformis, which needs pollen from plants in the Mallow family (including hibiscus) to reproduce. I noticed these digging their burrows in one of our Natural Resource Conservation Areas, Arlington Forest Park. They do indeed look like a bumble bee (thus the scientific epithet bombiformis meaning "in the form of a bumblebee"), but unlike them, they dig solitary burrows in the ground. Thanks to friend and colleague Sam Droege, one of the best bee guys in the country, for the help in identification.
This is just one of our 450+ bee species. So this National Pollinator Week, honor all pollinators, but realize that none are better than our native bees and planting the native plants they evolved with is one of the best ways to help them.
|A male Perplexing Bumblebee (Bombus perplexus) pollinating a flower. Bumblebees are one of the few native social bees, though their nests only last one season.|