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The New Bees On the Block

Since I started keeping honeybees I have been more conscious about which new plants I put in the garden.  I check to see whether it can be a good food source for the bees or not.  I have been adding more herbs and wild flowers lately.  It seems to work well.  I’m happy to see that the garden is filled with a variety of bees and wasps aside from the honeybees.

This time of year is when Anise Hyssop blooms, and I have a whole patch of them.  The bees were busy from early morning onward and I enjoy watching them.  To my surprise, this giant showed up this summer.  Two of them as far as I know, since I’ve seen them working on two different patches at the same time.  They are Giant Resin bees (Megachile sculpturalis).

It’s pretty huge for a bee, around an inch long.  The body length is similar to the Eastern Carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica) but much slimmer.  It was big enough that I thought it was a different type of wasp at first.  However it’s a native to East Asia that landed in the US in the early 1990s.  First spotted in North Carolina in 1994 and now spotted as far north as Vermont.  So far it’s harmless to other bees, except for Eastern Carpenter bees.  It will nest in an existing tunnel in the wood and sometimes takes over a Carpenter bee tunnel.  I have plenty of Carpenter bees nesting inside the patio beams that if one or two tunnels are taken over by these giants, it won’t be much loss.

 

Giant Resin bee on Anise Hyssop

Giant Resin bee on Anise Hyssop

Trying to go from one flower to another without flying

Trying to go from one flower to another without flying

The back

The back

Close up

Close up

References:

  • National Wildlife Federation ‘Field Guide to Insects and Spiders of North America by Arthur Evans
  • Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity‘ by Stephen A. Marshall
  • Bees, Wasps, and Ants: The Indispensable Role of Hymenoptera in Garden‘ by Eric Grissell