Sweat Bee

Sweat-Bee
  • Common Name(s): Sweat Bee
  • Order: Hymenoptera
  • Family: Halictidae
  • Common Species: Go by the family name as there are many common species
  • Commonly Confused With: Cuckoo Wasps

Characteristics

How to Identify?
This family of insects is very diverse. Most of them are very slender in appearance and usually a metallic black color. They can also be a beautiful metallic green, blue, or purple color. Sweat bees are not very large, ranging from 0.4-1.1 cm in length.

Habitat

Where do they live?
Most sweat bees live in the ground. There are some species that live in rotting wood, and there are others that are parasitoids [lay eggs in or on other creatures/hosts to be eaten by sweat bee larvae (juveniles)].

Food Source

What do they eat?
Sweat bee adults eat nectar. Larvae eat pollen or nectar that was collected or stored for them by adults, or if they are parasitoid larvae, they eat whatever host they are laid on; this will be some other insect or arthropod.

Activity

What do they do?
These insects are beneficial pollinators and need to be promoted as such. That being said, some species in this family can be attracted to sweat, hence the name sweat bee. If you brush them away or swat at them it could result in a sting. The sting of a sweat bee is not extremely painful, but it is one reason these bees are feared. If you are not allergic to the venom no serious issues will manifest.

Fun Fact

“Halictids [the family that includes sweat bees] display the most diverse gradation in social behavior (Michener 2007) as species can be solitary, communal, semi-social or eusocial.” (Buckley, 2011). What this previous statement is saying is that the family Halictidae can be very diverse in their social behaviors. Some of them can be solitary, some can live in small groups, or some can have colonies where each member depends on one another for survival. Pretty cool, huh?

Additional Resources

Source(s)

Author: G. Wyatt West– B.S.E.S University of Georgia 2017; Board Certified Entomologist

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