Bee On Goldenrod

2015 September 2

These pictures were taken almost exactly a year ago, on August 31, 2014, while I was out playing with my then-new Olympus TG-3 camera. The bee is on a goldenrod flower head.

Ah, but what kind of bee is it? There’s the question.

I can tell you what it is not – it’s not a honeybee. I keep bees, and I know what my girls look like. Honeybees don’t have a yellow-orange, fuzzy underside to their abdomen like this one.

Still, it is clearly something broadly related to honeybees, most likely in the same subfamily (Apinae). Down in the comments, Carole and Justin both point out that this is not in the same subfamily as honeybees after all, but is actually in the family Megachilidae. And, in fact, this one looks rather a lot like the leaf-cutter and resin bees in the genus Megachile

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a clear dorsal shot. And doubly unfortunately, the pictures on BugGuide (and elsewhere) are almost nothing but dorsal shots, making an exact ID to species very difficult.

The plant is maybe identifiable, too. It is clearly one of the goldenrods in the genus Solidago, which rather surprisingly (to me, at least) are in the family Asteraceae, which includes things like daisies and sunflowers. We have a lot of goldenrod in our yard, and even though they are native plants, they are some of the few natives that are successful at fending off the invasives like tansy and spotted knapweed, and are quite capable of dominating certain environments themselves. As native plants, there are multiple species in the area, so I’m not absolutely sure which one this is, either.
Curses. Although, Solidago nemoralis is a reasonably good possibility (a relatively short goldenrod that grows in poor, stony soils. You know, like our back yard).

6 Responses
  1. September 2, 2015

    Spectacularly beautiful.

  2. Katbird permalink
    September 2, 2015

    I hope we get an ID on the bee.

  3. Carole permalink
    September 2, 2015

    Could it be a leaf-cutter bee?

  4. September 3, 2015

    Carole: I think you are on the right track. It does look a lot more like some of the leaf-cutter bees than to other kinds of bees. Which would explain part of the reason I coudn’t find a match before – I was looking in the wrong family!

  5. September 4, 2015

    This bee is definitely in the megachilidae. The diagnostic character for that family is the presence of scopae (tufts of pollen collecting hair) on the ventral side of the abdomen rather than on the hind legs, as it is on most other bees.

  6. September 4, 2015

    Thanks, Carole and Justin. I’ve edited the posting a bit to at least put the bee in the right family.

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