The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.

Sweet…I mean, SWEAT Bee

More OMGSHINY (actually, I think this one qualifies as “HECKASHINY”) from the bird sanctuary:

A large mossy log, lying prone, begged to be rolled.  A small piece of the rotting wood broke away in my hand, revealing the tunnels and chambers and frass of its inhabitants.  A bright flash of iridescent green caught my eye; but it was only a small piece of abdominal segment, not a whole animal.   A strange thing to find in a log, though, I thought.  I briefly wondered what it might be, then returned to the task at hand: a better grip, and one…two…three…roll.

Another tiny flash of otherworldly green…this time, attached to a living creature:

Shimmering like a jewel in the morning sun, this tiny Sweat Bee stirred sleepily.  After a brief stroll in her newly aerated world, she paused to carefully groom her cheek:

Sweat Bees (Halictidae) are so named because of the affinity of some species to lap persperation off of human skin.  Although many are brownish, some, like this one (Augochlora pura), are vibrant green or blue (especially females), while others boast yellow and black colouration (especially males).  They are usually quite docile, but can sting if threatened…although the sting is not much more than a tiny pinch.  I was quite surprised to find her here beneath a log…but I have learned that a very few Halictids (including this species) use rotting wood as their nesting sites.  Females, like this one, will also overwinter in wood (just like my wife’s recent wasp find).  Most Halictids, however, nest in soil.

I am rather enamoured with the way the tiny droplets of moisture on her head and thorax come across as aquamarine blue…a play of the light on her irridescent exoskeleton…



Soil nesting by wood-inhabiting Halictine bees (Barrows, 1973)

Nesting habits and life cycle of a sweat bee, Augochlora pura (Stockhammer, 1966)

14 responses to “Sweet…I mean, SWEAT Bee

  1. Pete Yeeles March 21, 2010 at 6:34 PM

    Now there’s an insect which is worthy of an “ahh cute” prefix!

  2. christie March 21, 2010 at 8:23 PM

    Are these taken with the Canon? They’re great. And this is an adorable bug. 🙂

  3. MObugs41 March 22, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    These are some of my favorite insects, by far. The coloring is spectacular. I too found a few females that had taken up residence in an old Maple Tree stump. I would peel back the bark and almost always find one. Curious little creatures aren’t they?

  4. jason March 22, 2010 at 8:26 PM

    Fantastic shots! She’s quite stunning. I’m glad you decided to see if anything of interest was lurking in the log.

    • TGIQ March 23, 2010 at 9:45 AM

      Thanks, Jason! There are ALWAYS goodies to be found in/under logs…I’ll be searching there more often now that things are thawing out…

  5. amarilla March 24, 2010 at 7:33 AM

    OH MY! What an eyeful for such a little critter. How beautiful.

  6. Ted C. MacRae March 24, 2010 at 12:15 PM

    Looks like the bird sanctuary was good explorin’!

  7. Pingback: Ichneumonid wasps « Fall To Climb

  8. Annette August 17, 2013 at 1:38 AM

    the photos captured are exceptional! I came across these while photographing wild lobelia. Try as I might, with tripod, zoom lens, any setting I could, I have not yet managed such good photos! These move so very fast. They are stunning in emerald!

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