Cute Little Ground Bees

On the hill between the Big Maple and the Herb & Butterfly Garden there are several small colonies of bees.  I happened by one day when kids from our Wild Discoveries Day Camp were gathered around the entrance holes watching them stick their heads out, then pull back.  They convinced me to try my little camera’s video mode:

Here is a bit of information about “Halictid Bees” I found by surfing the net:

Halictid Bees are small bees (1/4″ – 1/2″ long) in the family Halictidae. Most halictid bees are shiny black, metallic green, or metallic blue. Some halictid bees are called “sweat bees” because they land on skin to gather sweat droplets. The bees will sometimes sting while they are doing this, but only if they are swatted or startled. Some bee-like hover flies in the family Syrphidae are also sometimes called “sweat bees,” but they are not bees and do not sting or bite.

Most halictid bees are solitary and create underground nests for their offspring. However, halictid bees are especially interesting to biologists because many species have evolved to live in social colonies recently in evolutionary history. Closely related halictid bee species are known to be social in one habitat and solitary in another. These patterns can help biologists study the origins of social behavior among insects. Some Kentucky halictid bee species show intermediate social behavior: several individual bees create nests near one another but do not work together.  – University of Kentucky

According to several websites, there are over 500 species of Halictidae in North America.  They are important pollinators, especially with the mysterious failure of honey bee hives in recent years.

5 thoughts on “Cute Little Ground Bees

  1. Interesting post, great video!

    Just be careful that you do not violate copyright laws by quoting an entire text. As an author you must be vigilant, and practice ethical posting. You wouldn’t want someone else copying your work!

  2. Thanks Jenn. I put the text in quotes and made a link to the source… that’s OK, isn’t it? (I have to admit, copyright on the internet is… not something I know a lot about… But whenever I use others’ photos or text, I try to be very careful to say so and to link back to where I got it!)

  3. You are limited to a few sentences, and photos are a definite No-no! Yours are great, and you need not use any one else’s shots!

    The site says, “All photos courtesy R. Bessin and B. Newton, University of Kentucky. The Kentucky Critter Files are maintained by Blake Newton, Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky. Contact:

    And profs are pretty particular about using their intellectual property, as publishing is crucial to them.
    I would simply include the link, and use point form for a few salient points, otherwise, it is copying.

    See my posts: copyright. You can take the time to e-mail the author, they may grant you permission, but that is time consuming!

  4. What beautiful little green bees! Thanks for the video. I found ground-dwelling bees this spring, but mine were the usual black and yellow. My sympathies about copyright issues. I used to work in academic publishing and struggled with dilemmas about “fair use” all the time. My experience was that professors really want to share what they know, as long as you give them credit and you’re not doing it to make money for yourself.

  5. Hi Jennifer. I wonder if you know anything about ground nesting bees that are quite aggressive. My friend got stung several times while weeding nearby. The stings were painful and after a week swelled up quite badly, bruising and painful. At first I thought they were yellow jackets, as we have many of these, but they are too small to be the typical Long Island Yellow Jacket wasp. They really look and fly more like bees. It is definitely a hive in the ground under a large oak in a suburban backyard (Locust Valley, Long Island). What do you think? Any info would be helpful. I hate to destroy any insects, but her stings are so bad and the nest quite near the back door. Thanks.

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