Wild Guide

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From Missouri Conservationist: May 2018

Bicolored Striped Sweat Bee | Agapostemon virescens

  • Status: Common in May
  • Size: 0.3–0.6 inches
  • Distribution: Statewide
  • Life Cycle: Bicolored striped sweat bees dig nests deep in flat or sloping soil or sometimes in banks. They are typically a communal species, sharing the same nest entrance. Up to 12 females may share a single nest, but each individual builds her own brood cells where she can lay her eggs. In cool regions, there is one generation per year, with females active in early summer and males in late summer. Only mated females survive through winter.
  • Foods: Larvae, developing in underground nests, eat from a mass of pollen and nectar provided to them when their eggs are laid. Adults, like other bees, eat nectar and pollen, pollinating flowers in the process. Bicolored striped sweat bees are generalists when it comes to flowers. However, they are short-tongued and have difficulty extracting nectar from deep flowers.
  • Ecosystem Connections: Adults gather pollen and are considered beneficial pollinators.

Bicolored striped sweat bees are among the most strikingly noticeable of our native bee species with their metallic green or blue-green sheen and exotic mix of colors. The females are fast flyers and have a black abdomen with thin white stripes. The males tend to fly more slowly while searching for females in the garden and have thick bands of yellow stripes on their abdomens.

Did You Know?

Sweat bees are famous — or infamous — for their tendency to land on humans to obtain moisture and salts from perspiration. Like deer visiting a salt lick or an athlete drinking an electrolyte beverage, they supplement their diet with salts, which they sometimes try to obtain from sweating humans. Though they share the same moniker, bicolored striped sweat bees don’t share the same affinity for human sweat.

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen

Staff Writer - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler