Diadasia / sunflower Bee

Family: Apidae

Genus: Diadasia

Common Name: Sunflower Bee

APPEARANCE

Physical Appearance

Diadasia species are very hairy bees and can vary widely in appearance, from a uniform buff color over both thorax and abdomen to grey or charcoal, sometimes with distinct bands of paler hair on the abdomen.

 

The female carries pollen in a brush of specialized hairs, called a scopa, on each hind leg. Diadasia species have distinctively large scopae which, when filled with pollen, resemble shaggy legwarmers.

 

Characteristics

Most North American Diadasia species are found in the western states, and are typically “oligolectic,” that is, they obtain pollen from a limited range of plants, often within a single genus or family. For Diadasia, these include primarily sunflowers, cacti, or plants in the Mallow or Evening Primrose families. Different Diadasia species are oligolectic for different plant species; i.e. Diadasia that are sunflower specialists do not collect pollen from cactus, and vice versa. A wider range of plants are visited for nectar.

 

As many of them are specialists of either sunflowers or cacti, Diadasia have earned the common name of sunflower, or sometimes cactus, bee. Mallow bee would also be an appropriate common name for those Diadasia species that are mallow specialists.

 

Size: Robust, very hairy, small to medium sized bees, 1/4 to 1 inch in length.

HABITS

Distribution

Diadasia is a genus of about forty-three species, all restricted to the Americas, and found predominantly in North America. Most of the thirty or so North American Diadasia species occur in the western United States.

 

Number of species in North America

Approximately thirty

 

Emergence Time
Late spring to summer

 

Nesting Habit
Ground nesting

 

Pollinated Garden Crops Include

Sunflower

 

Additional Flowers Visited in Natural Areas
Malacothamnus (bush mallow)
Malva (mallow)
Opuntia (prickly pear)
Prosopis (mesquite)

Visited Plants

Bidens / Beggarticks

Clarkia / Clarkia

Coreopsis / Tickseed

Eriogonum / Buckwheat

Eschscholzia / California Poppy

Grindelia / Gumweed

Helianthus / Sunflower

Larrea / Creosote Bush

Penstemon / Beardtongue

Salvia / Sage

Sphaeralcea / Globemallow

Verbesina / Wingstem

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