Hylaeus / yellow-faced Bee
Male of Hylaeus mesillae (Cockerell). © Rollin Coville
Female Hylaeus punctatus. © Rollin Coville
Common Name: Yellow-Faced Bee
Hylaeus species are such small, hairless bees, that they are often mistaken for wasps. They are black, with bright yellow markings on their face (hence the name yellow-faced bee), legs and thorax. Occasionally these markings are white instead of yellow within a few species. They have very little body hair, and the females lack scopae for carrying pollen.
Females carry pollen (and nectar) in a digestive tract organ called the crop. They regurgitate these food stores upon returning to the nests they are constructing.
Hylaeus species are generalist foragers, visiting a very wide variety of plants for pollen and nectar. Although they have short tongues, their small body size permits them to collect nectar and pollen from deep tubular flowers by crawling inside the blossom.
Several dozen North American Hylaeus species are considered endangered, due to loss of habitat. Many of these are from Hawaii.
Size: Very small, slender bee, 1/5 to 3/10 inch in length.
Hylaeus species are found worldwide, and are distributed throughout most parts of the United States and Canada.
Number of species in North America
Spring through fall
Hylaeus are solitary bees, usually making their nests in existing wood tunnels. These nest sites mostly exist in stems and twigs. The female lines her brood cells with a cellophane-like material, which she secretes from specialized glands.
Pollinated Garden Crops Include
Additional Flowers Visited in Natural Areas