The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.

Tag Archives: Halictidae

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…

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References:

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

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

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