I finally got a photo of a metallic green bee. It turns out these bees are a wee bit camera shy and it took a lot of persistence to get this one to pose. This bee is most likely in the genus Agapostemon in the family Halictidae. Even though the 44 species of Agapostemon are in the sweat bee family, they are not attracted to human sweat, and instead of hanging around humans, they tend to shy away.
Agapostemon sweat bees
The short-tongued Agapostemon are native to North and South America. Although they forage on many plants, they love composite flowers such as daisies and dandelions.
Most species are solitary ground-dwellers. In some species, several females will share a common tunnel entrance and post a single guard outside, but inside the burrow, each female builds and maintains her own nest.
The bees appear green or blue, depending on how the light reflects from their bodies. All species have a green or blue head and thorax, and sometimes the females have a similarly colored abdomen. Other females and most males have a yellow and black (or white and black) striped abdomen. The females carry pollen in the dense hairs that cover their hind legs. These medium-sized bees range from about 0.3 to 0.6 inches long.
Green bees are common
In addition to the Agapostemon bees, many other green or greenish blue bees live in North America. Other members of the sweat bees (Halictidae) are green as are many of the mason bees (Osmia) and some of the orchid bees (Euglossa) which have recently entered Florida from Central America.
In smaller bees, the green tones are harder to see because they don’t reflect much light. But the Agapostemon bees, like the one pictured here, are fairly large and easy to spot.
They are also quite common, inhabiting a panoply of different environments throughout North America. If you are seeing a robust, fast, good-sized bee with an unmistakably metallic green body, it is likely one of the Agapostemons.
Honey Bee Suite