Pollinator of the Month: Mining Bees (Andrena)

Another new journal post segement: Pollinator of the Month!

Mining bees, also known as Andrena, are a group of solitary bees found throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. They are commonly found in a variety of habitats including woodlands, meadows, and gardens. Andrena bees are one of the earliest spring pollinators to emerge, though some subgenera of Andrena emerge later in the summer when their preferred host plants are blooming, typically in the family Asteraceae.

Mining bees are solitary bees, meaning they do not live in large colonies like honeybees. Each female mining bee digs her own nest in the ground. The nest consists of a vertical tunnel with branching side tunnels where the female lays her eggs and provisions them with pollen and nectar for the larvae to eat.

Many insects, including bees, typically overwinter as larvae, and spend some of the new growing season finishing development before emerging. Because many Andrena are early spring bees, they overwinter as adults, and are ready to begin visiting flowers as soon as they receive the necessary phenological signals, likely warming soil (Danforth et al. 2019). Because of their early emergence, mining bees are important pollinators for a variety of early season plants, including early flowering wildflowers (typically those that are perennial or bulb/tuber forming), and flowering shrubs and deciduous trees. Mining bees tend to be picky about the pollen they collect, with some only visiting Salix, while others only visit plants in the Rosaceae family (i.e. Prunus & Rosa). There are some generalists which likely provide important pollination services to a broad range of plants.

There are approximately 61 species of mining bees found in Alberta. Mining bees are small to medium sized bees that vary in colour and hair patterns, but females tend to have distinctive facial foveae, which are often visible in photos as patches of hairs running vertically along the inner margins of the eyes. Females also have pollen collecting hairs on their rear legs, though this is not a unique characteristic. In general, Andrena are more slender than most other early season bees like bumblebees and mason bees. They are usually non-metallic, and sometimes have hair bands on the abdominal segments. Pictures of the face, abdomen and wing venation are all helpful for identification to genus, though species are very difficult to identify, even under a microscope.

If you have additional knowledge/information about mining bees, how to identify them, or good resources about the Andrena genus, please feel free to share!

Did anyone do anything exciting to celebrate Earth Day yesterday?

Calgary Pollinators April Community Pollinator Walk
Sunday April 30th at 1:00pm at Nose Hill Park
Register for the walk HERE

Publicado el abril 24, 2023 12:20 MAÑANA por jdo77 jdo77


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