Andrena / mining Bee

Family: Andrenidae

Genus: Andrena

Common Name: Mining Bee

APPEARANCE

Physical Appearance

Coloring is usually black or dull metallic blue or green, usually with buff colored hairs on the thorax. The abdomen is tapered, sometimes with noticeable bands of pale hairs.

 

The female carries pollen in a brush of specialized hairs, called a scopa, on each of her hind legs, which are distinctly noticeable on Andrena species. When she forages on flowers with bluish pollen, such as some species of Gilia or Phacelia, her hind legs will appear blue or purple.

 

Characteristics

Andrena species have a habit of nesting in lawns, often capturing the attention of home gardeners.

 

Andrena includes both plant generalists and plant specialist species. While Andrena are generally known as spring bees, some specialist species emerge later in the year, coinciding with the bloom period of their particular forage plants. Examples of this are Andrena helianthiformis, which is a specialist of Echinacea (purple coneflower), and Andrena solidaginis, which forages primarily on Solidago (goldenrod).

 

Many Andrena species can be valuable spring crop pollinators, particularly for orchard fruit, almonds, and blueberries.

 

Size: Small to medium sized slender bees, approximately 1/2 inch or less in length.

HABITS

Distribution

A large, diverse genus of more than 1500 species worldwide, with the greatest abundance in temperate regions of North America and Eurasia. Andrena species are found in virtually every habitat across the North American continent.

 

Number of species in North America

Approximately 400

 

Emergence Time
Early spring, spring, summer, depending upon species

 

Nesting Habit
Ground nesting

 

Pollinated Garden Crops Include

Apple
Almond
Blueberry
Strawberry

 

Additional Flowers Visited in Natural Areas

Gilia
Hydrophyllum
(waterleaf)
Rubus (blackberry)
Spiraea (steeplebush, meadowsweet)

Visited Plants

Amelanchier / Serviceberry

Amorpha / False Indigo

Arctostaphylos / Manzanita

Ceanothus / Wild Lilac

Cercis / Redbud

Chrysothamnus / Rabbitbrush

Cleome / Spiderflower

Dalea / Prairie Cover

Erigeron / Fleabane

Eriogonum / Buckwheat

Eschscholzia / California Poppy

Eutrochium / Joe-Pye Weed

Geranium / Wild Geranium

Grindelia / Gumweed

Helianthus / Sunflower

Holodiscus / Oceanspray

Lupinus / Lupine

Monarda / Beebalm

Nepeta / Catmint

Penstemon / Beardtongue

Phacelia / Scorpionweed

Prunus / Plum

Ratibida / Prairie Coneflower

Rhododendron / Rhododendron

Ribes / Currant

Rosa / Rose

Rudbeckia / Coneflower

Salix / Willow

Scrophularia / Figwort

Silphium / Rosinweed

Solidago / Goldenrod

Sphaeralcea / Globemallow

Symphyotrichum / Aster

Vaccinium / Blueberry

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