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Colletes / Polyester Bee

Family: Colletidae

Genus: Colletes

Common Name: Polyester Bee


Physical Appearance

Colletes species have a characteristic heart-shaped face, when viewed from the front. The thorax is typically buff colored and hairy, and the abdomen is dark with distinctive pale bands of hair.


The female carries pollen in a brush of specialized hairs, called a scopa, on each hind leg.



As short-tongued bees, Colletes species typically collect nectar from open-access or composite flowers.


In creating her ground nests, a female first secretes a transparent, waterproof substance to line the brood cells, and then uses her short two-lobed tongue to spread it over the cell wall. This lining, detachable from surrounding soil, protects the brood cells from fungal attack, and can resist damp soil and even flooding.


Size: Small to medium sized slender bees, from 1/3 to 1/2 inch in length.



A large genus with representative species in the Americas, Eurasia and Africa, its range extending as far north as the Arctic Circle. The genus is widespread and common throughout North America.


Number of species in North America

Over 100


Emergence Time


Nesting Habit
Ground nesting. Colletes species line their nests with a waterproof, cellophane-like substance which they secrete from a special gland in the abdomen. This nesting trait gave rise to the common name, polyester bee.


Pollinated Garden Crops Include



Additional Flowers Visited in Natural Areas
Parkinsonia (paloverde, Jerusalem thorn)
Prosopis (mesquite)

Visited Plants

Amelanchier / Serviceberry

Amorpha / False Indigo

Asclepias / Milkweed

Ceanothus / Wild Lilac

Cercis / Redbud

Chrysothamnus / Rabbitbrush

Cleome / Spiderflower

Coreopsis / Tickseed

Dalea / Prairie Clover

Erigeron / Fleabane

Erigonum / Buckwheat

Geranium / Wild Geranium

Grindelia / Gumweed

Larrea / Creosote Bush

Monarda / Beebalm

Phacelia / Scorpionweed

Prunus / Plum

Salix / Willow

Solidago / Goldenrod

Sphaeralcea / Globemallow

Symphyotrichum / Aster

Vaccinium / Blueberry

Verbesina / Wingstem

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