Peponapis / squash Bee
Common Name: Squash Bee
Golden-brown colored bees, both males and females have a fuzzy, gold colored thorax. Males are distinguished by a yellow spot on the lower margin of the face below the antennae (just above the mandibles), lacking in the females.
Males have particularly long antennae.
The female carries pollen in brushes of specialized hairs on her hind legs.
Females forage for pollen and nectar in squash flowers in early morning.
Peponapis species are an example of oligolectic bees - that is they specialize in gathering pollen exclusively from a group of related plant species, in this case from members of the family Cucurbitaceae, which includes squash, gourds, and pumpkin.
Oligolectic bees time their emergence as adults to coincide with the flowering period of their pollen plants. Accordingly, Peponapis species emerge in late summer with the appearance of squash blossoms.
Oligolectic bees will typically gather nectar from a broader range of flowers than they will pollen.
Peponapis females forage on squash flowers in the early morning.
The close association between Peponapis species and squash flowers is further highlighted by behavioral patterns that do not involve foraging. For instance, mating occurs inside the squash flowers and males typically sleep in the flowers which close from late afternoon until the following morning.
As specialists, Peponapis are highly efficient and important pollinators of our cultivated North American squashes.
Size: Medium, golden-brown colored bees, approximately 1/2 inch in length.
There are only fifteen identified species of Peponapis, and all are limited to the Americas. The greatest abundance of North American Peponapis occurs in the Southwest United States; however, one particular species, Peponapis pruinosa, has an extensive range across the United States, in some locations reaching as far north as Canada.
Number of species in North America
Pollinated Garden Crops Include
Additional Flowers Visited in Natural Areas
Ipomoea (morning glory) – for nectar only