wild bees and native bees

Lasioglossum ovaliceps

Apparently not much is known about this little bee which I found in my backyard last June. I sent my photo into BugGuide.net where the bee was identified by John Ascher of the American Museum of Natural History. It turns out to be a Lasioglossum (Hemihalictus sensu lato) ovaliceps in the family Halictidae.

That’s a lot of name for such a little bee. I didn’t collect it—only got a few photos—but I would say it was about 1/8 of an inch long and it was foraging on some catmint flowers. At first the red abdomen made me think it was a small wasp, but the pollen load on its legs gave it away as a bee.

I’ve searched and searched for more information on this species, but the only thing I found is that it lives in western North America. The genus Lasioglossum is huge—containing about 1800 species worldwide—and most of them are black or dark shades of green. However, a few species like this one have a red or yellowish-red abdomen.

Nearly all Lasioglossum species live in the ground, but they have a diverse range of lifestyles from semi-social to solitary, and they can be found foraging on a number of different plants from early till late in the season. They are known as excellent pollinators, and the sheer number of individuals makes them especially important.

I wish I could tell you more about my little bee, but part of the charm of bee watching is that many of the species are largely unknown to everyone. I will definitely be on the lookout for this one next year.



Lasioglossum ovaliceps on catmint. © Rusty Burlew.

Discover more from Honey Bee Suite

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.


    • Linda,

      It was really too small to see without the aid of my camera. I was photographing something else when I happened to see it. I wish I knew more.

  • Wow–that is so cool to find a bee that you didn’t know already. I’ve become more aware of other kinds of bees now that I have honeybees, and it’s exciting to learn about them.

  • After reading your oxalic drip column again, I treated my bees a few days ago. Oh mercy! There are hundreds of mites on the bottom board insert for three days running now. I had no idea.
    Thanks again for your terrific info.

  • When people ask “what’s wrong with the bees?” and “how can I help?” I try to get them to look at ALL bees. Honey bees, while close to our hearts, are only one species. I try to get them to look at California buckwheat, a common plant here in So Calif. It’s loaded with all kinds of bees—most of which I don’t know. (A void in my knowledge base.) Once you realize that all those little bees are there and that they’re important it’s easier to make the case for protecting their habitat and hence their existence. Pictures like this are such a help in this.

    Thanks, once again, Rusty.

    • Marian,

      Native bees need someone watching their back, and beekeepers can do so much to help. I think it is hard to care about something that you don’t know anything about, so whenever possible I like to put a name to things . . . or a face. Thanks for being a beekeeper who supports all bees. You are the best!