Wednesday, April 15, 2020

First Sign of Spring: Cellophane Bees!

Here they are, and spring is here!

Note the downward-slanting, heart-shaped face, and the large tongue--all signs of this species of "Cellophane Bee," a native, ground-nesting, solitary-nesting bee. 

This one is Colletes inaequalis, the "Unequal Cellophane Bee."

Cellophane Bees overwinter as larvae and then emerge as adults on the first warm days of spring.   Here are some that appeared on a gravel bar next to my chair on a warm April day as I sat by McDowell Creek.  

They come out early and feed on redbud, one of the first trees to bloom.   

The males live only long enough to mate.  The mated females dig burrows and furnish brood cells with pollen and nectar.   They close off the brood cells with waterproof "cellophane," which they produce from a gland in their abdomens, sealing it with an anti-fungal liquid from another gland near their tongues.   

I'm not sure what these little guys were doing licking the stones on the gravel bar.   Take a look and leave a comment if you want to tell me what you think!   Enjoy!    
                                                                --Margy Stewart