Species Profile: Yellow-faced Bee (Hylaeus sp), Pickens, South Carolina

© Clay Bolt / www.claybolt.com

Yellow-faced Bee (Hylaeus sp), © Clay Bolt / www.meetyourneighbours.net

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 that exist (over 4,000 in North America).

For several days I have been monitoring the species that have been visiting the blooms of a Black Willow Tree that grows in my backyard. I have found several different species from several different genera including Bombus (Bumble Bees), Andrenidae (Mining Bees), Augochlora (Metallic Green Bees) and now, Hylaeus (Yellow-faced Bees). This is a species that, until now, I had only seen in books.

Yellow-faced Bees, which belong to the family Colletidae, make their nests in twigs and stems, which are then sealed in a cellophane like material. This practice has earned some species in this family the common name of ‘Cellophane Bee.’ Another very interesting characteristic of this group is the notable lack of hairs on the legs, called Scopal hairs, which in most bees are used to collect pollen. Instead, females collect the pollen and nectar in a crop for transportation.

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