Bees Of Texas: Local Species, Physical Features & Behavior

Let’s discuss Texas bees.

Insects come in different varieties with some considered beneficial and others non-beneficial.

The beneficial ones serve many purposes such as food production (as in honey bees), pollinators, as well as the dispersal of seeds. Still, certain insects help control the populations of other organisms.

Types Of Bees In Texas

While there are lots of benefits offered by beneficial insects, we’re more concerned with one type; bees. Bees are mostly known for their honey as well as stings.

However, not all bee species make or produce honey.

We’ll further narrow down our focus to bees in Texas.

Why Texas?

Although bees are found in every continent of the world, certain species tend to be more common in particular locations than others.

Persons living in Texas and having an interest in these pollinators may be interested in bees found within their territory. If you belong to this category of persons, you’ve come to the right place.

Native Bees of Texas

When it comes to native bees in Texas, there are several hundreds of them.

Mentioning all of these won’t be necessary.

However, some of the most popular bee species native to Texas include carpenter bees, bumblebees, Megachile, mining bees, mason bees as well as leafcutting bees.

Other native bee species include anthophora, sweat bees, cuckoo bees, and sunflower bees just to mention a few.

Texas Bee Sizes and Shapes

When it comes to bee identification, you’ll need to look at certain physical features such as coloration, size as well as the shape of these bees among other things.

Different bee species have unique physical attributes.

One thing that tends to be common with some species is their ability to sting.

  • Bee Sizes

Bee size is largely influenced by the bee species. These sizes are categorized into tiny, small, medium, and large.

Tiny bees measure less than 10mm.

For small bees, these can measure approximately 10 mm in length. Medium-sized bees are approximately 15 mm while large ones are approximately 20mm.

  • Bee Shapes

Bees have varying shapes. These differ from one species to the next. For proper identification, you’ll need to compare them against established shapes.

Such shapes include hylaeiform, epeoliform, apiform and megachiliform.

Other bee shapes include euceriform and bombiform.

Not all Bees Sting

It’s necessary to point out that not all bees sting.

Actually, only the females can sting. Notice the word “can.” Even though female bees have stingers, not a lot of species know how to use them.

In other words, not all female bees sting do sting. Honey bees tend to be the most popular bee species in Texas.

This is due to their value derived from bee production as well as pollination. As a matter of fact, their bee production contributes to Texas’ economy.

Still, on bee stings, honey bees are known to have the capacity to sting repeatedly. While this is true, the chances of stings becoming fatal for the bee are high.

As honey bees sting, there’s a potential for barbs attached to their stingers to get caught or stuck. When it does get stuck, it turns out fatal as the bee dies.

Bee Conservation

There have been growing concerns about the need for bee conservation. Bees are largely considered beneficial to Texans and the environment due to their pollination activities as well as honey production.

For conservation to be possible, certain bee needs must be met.

There are basically three major needs when it comes to bees. These needs include a place to nest, nectar (considered bee food), as well as pollen. These are key to bee presence.

So, if you own a piece of property, you might want to encourage these pollinators by making your surroundings favorable enough.

Identifying Texan Bees

The key to identifying bees is by knowing the unique features of each species.

Now, this is a lot of work because there are about 700 bee species in Texas or more. However, the most popular of these species will be briefly discussed.

Let’s provide the main distinguishing features of these native bees; carpenter bees, bumblebee, mining bees, mason bees as well as leafcutting bees.

  • Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees are of two variants; the large and small carpenter bees.

For large carpenter bees, key distinguishing features include large size (refer to the sizes earlier mentioned), as well as a color that’s shiny black with a dark blue abdomen.

Other features include a brush of hair on the hind legs as well as the thorax. These are mostly territorial (especially the males).

Small carpenter bees are slender and have a dark blue-green coloration.

Some of these species might have white face marks. Apart from the brushes of hair on hind legs, small carpenter bees are mostly hairless.

  • Bumble Bees

For bumblebees, the distinguishing characteristics include a robust shape that falls into the bombiform category.

Bumblebees measure from medium to large sizes and are black with yellow bands. Unlike small carpenter bees, bumblebees have hair covering their entire body.

When flying this bee species makes low buzzing sounds. Their preferred nesting areas are on the ground.

  • Mining Bees

Also called the hairy-legged bee, mining bees vary in size as you can find them in small, medium, and large sizes. With a robust and rounded shape, these have short and velvety hair on the body and legs.

They can nest communally as well as solitarily.

  • Mason Bees

Mason bees are also called metallic bees.

True to their name, these have a metallic green to blue-black body coloration. They’re small to medium in size with a stout, rounded shape (megachiliform).

Mason bees have hairs beneath their abdomen and are mostly seen around spring to early summer.

  • Leafcutting Bees

This bee species are small to medium in size with slender to robust shapes (megachiliform).

They have hair below their abdomen and are solitary cavity nesters. What more? Leafcutting bees have a black appearance with silvery hairs. On their abdomen are white stripes.

These are a few of many bee species in Texas.

We’ve said that Texas is home to over 700 bee species. The information above includes how to tell certain bee species from others.

Distinguishing parameters used include size, coloration, shape, hair, and nesting behavior.

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