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.

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…

Long-horned Bee (Eucera sp), Chattanooga, TN, Spring 2014 © Clay Bolt | www.claybolt.com

My multi-year project celebrating North America’s native bees is officially underway! I spent the last few days photographing species found in and around Chattanooga, Tennessee including this incredibly cute Long-horned Bee (Eucera species…possibly E. atriventris or E. dubitata). Species in this genus are important pollinators of sunflowers, alfalfa and other crops. Species in this genus are solitary, ground-nesting bees.