A Small Carpenter Bee (Ceratina sp), South Carolina © Clay Bolt / www.claybolt.com

Most homeowners in North America are familiar with Carpenter Bees. In the eastern US, where I live, Xylocopa virginica, the Eastern Carpenter Bee is often mistaken for a Bumble Bee that has a naughty habit –from the human perspective– of drilling (or chewing, to be accurate) its way into wood. It goes without saying that this isn’t the most popular species of insect. However, despite their choice of inconvenient nesting sites, Carpenter Bees in the genus Xylocopa are in fact important pollinators.

Most homeowners in North America are familiar with Carpenter Bees. In the eastern US, where I live, Xylocopa virginica, the Eastern Carpenter Bee is often mistaken for a Bumble Bee that has a naughty habit –from the human perspective– of drilling (or chewing, to be accurate) its way into wood. It goes without saying that this isn’t the most popular species of insect. However, despite their choice of inconvenient nesting sites, Carpenter Bees in the genus Xylocopa are in fact important pollinators.

One of the many species of Cuckoo Bees in Ruficornis Group found in North America. © Clay Bolt | www.claybolt.com

I have become fascinated with Cuckoo Bees (Nomadidae sp). Not only are Cuckoo Bees visually appealing, but they exhibit really interesting behavior. And, as a whole, they are also hard to identify down to the species level without intense scrutiny, even for the experts, which I kind of like (on slightly pathetic note) since I still have so much catching up to do regarding my own bee identification skills.

I have become fascinated with Cuckoo Bees (Nomadidae sp). Not only are Cuckoo Bees visually appealing, but they exhibit really interesting behavior. And, as a whole, they are also hard to identify down to the species level without intense scrutiny, even for the experts, which I kind of like (on slightly pathetic note) since I still have so much catching up to do regarding my own bee identification skills.

© Clay Bolt / www.claybolt.com

It occurred to me this past week that one of the reasons that I’ve been having such a wonderful time photographing bees is because the process is a lot like a treasure hunt. While I often may have an idea of what I’m netting, there are many more times when I have no idea of the species that I’ve just captured until I peer into the net. Thanks, in part, to the sheer number of species that exist (over 4,000 in North America), the opportunity to discover something…

It occurred to me this past week that one of the reasons that I’ve been having such a wonderful time photographing bees is because the process is a lot like a treasure hunt. While I often may have an idea of what I’m netting, there are many, many more times at this stage when I have no idea of the species that I’ve just captured until I peer –very excitedly– into the net. In part, the chance for new discoveries is due to the sheer number of species…

Last summer, as I walked up my gravel driveway to get the mail I noticed a flurry of activity around several very tiny holes on the hard-packed, clay embankment. I had seen the holes before, but assumed that they belonged to ants. In fact, I had photographed several Big-headed Ants (Pheidole sp) in the same spot during the summer before. However, to my delight, after close inspection, I noticed that the insects that I had noticed were actually Lasioglossum sweat bees.

Andrena cornelli, © Clay Bolt / www.claybolt.com

Andrena cornelli is a beautiful, finely structured mining bee that is associated with Rhododendrons in eastern North America. This is also one of the first species that I photographed last summer when I was first kicking around the idea of this project. If you’re just becoming interested in bees, certain clues, such as food sources, flight times (either season or time of day) and other characteristics can really be useful when trying to get a general idea of a species’ identity. In the case of this species, one…

Andrena cornelli is a beautiful, finely structured mining bee that is associated with Rhododendrons in eastern North America. This is also one of the first species that I photographed in the summer of 2013 in Highlands, NC when I was first kicking around the idea of this project.  I photographed this male A. cornelli just this past week (April, 2014) in Pickens, South Carolina as it visited a Pinxter Azalea.

© Clay Bolt | www.meetyourneighbours.net

The Metallic Green Bee (Augochloropsis metallica) is  the beautiful native North American bees that has been given the unfortunate common name of ‘Sweat Bee.’