I was so happy to finally find a nice aggregation of ground-nesting leafcutter bees and it was fitting that I was able to do so on Mother’s Day since many mothers-to-be were hard at work provisioning their nests with carefully (and quickly) cut pieces of leaves to serve as linings for the developmental cells of their young. Project advisor John Ascher suggests Subgenus Megachiloides as the genus with potential species including rubi, integra, and integrella. I need to do a little digging of my own before I lean…

It is often difficult for viewers to appreciate the time and energy that goes into making a seemingly simple natural history photograph. For the past two years I have been photographing the lives of Lasioglossum sweat bees that have been nesting on my driveway. These tiny bees, which are smaller than a grain of rice, are often bombarded by a variety of predators and parasites. This past May, A Beewolf (Philanthus gibbosus) (one of many in time) moved into the nesting aggregation and began to take prey. I…

We are all familiar with Bumble Bees, but did you realize that some Bombus species are actually nest parasites of other Bumble Bees? This rather disheveled looking bee is the Lemon Cuckoo Bumble Bee (Bombus (Psithyrus) citrinus) (a male), which is a parasite of the Common Eastern Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens) and the Half-black Bumble Bee (Bombus vagans). After sneaking her way into the host colony, a female Lemon Cuckoo Bumble Bee dispatches the queen and takes control of the nest’s workers who soon begin to feed her…

A trip into the world of bees offers a glimpse into the extraordinary. Each day, from the flowers that you pass on your way into the office, to the fields, forests and bare patches of earth, life and death struggles for survival are taking place, the outcomes of which will ultimately affect our own lives. Take notice and take care of bees. Spray less. Mow less. Provide a little shelter. That would be a great start. Pictured: Metallic Green Bee (Augochlorella sp) on Bee Balm (Monarda didyma).

Mason Bee (Heriades sp), South Carolina, USA, ©Clay Bolt | beautifulbees.org

My family and I live in a cabin of sorts. It is situated in a lovely little patch of woods, which is home to a wonderful variety of wildlife. One of the first things you learn when moving to the country is that there isn’t much of a boundary between your walls and the boundaries of the creatures living just beyond them. Sometimes those boundaries are shared. When we first moved out into the country just over eight years ago now, I was a somewhat surprised (for some…

My family and I live in a cabin of sorts. It is situated in a lovely little patch of woods, which is home to a wonderful variety of wildlife. One of the first things you learn when moving to the country is that there isn’t much of a boundary between your walls and the boundaries of the creatures living just beyond them. Sometimes those boundaries are shared. When we first moved out into the country just over eight years ago now, I was a somewhat surprised (for some…

It is tempting, when starting a new project, to rush around in a desperate attempt to cover all of the bases. Believe me, this is something that I know all too well having initiated a few projects over the past few years. However, I promised myself before beginning this odyssey to get to know North America’s native bees that I would take the scenic route. I have no real deadlines and no definite conclusion that I’m driving toward other than my desire to help others realize just how important our…

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.

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…