Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Metallic Sweat Bee

This pretty green bee is the Metallic Sweat Bee (Agapostemon spendens). These bees are somewhat large for a sweat bee at around 3/8 to 1/2 inch in length. Commonly found throughout all of North America, they are one of the most frequently seen bees of summer. They nectar from flowers and aid in pollinating various plants. The term "Sweat Bee" indicates that they are also attracted to human sweat. They will often land on our exposed body parts to lap up the salty sweat. It is then that stings generally occur. Every time I've been stung by one of these little guys it has been in the crease of my elbow or behind my knee. Apparently unaware that the bee is there I bend my arm or leg and POW! I get stung, and for their size they can give a pretty powerful sting. Fortunately the pain is short lived and causes no lasting effects (Unless of course you are allergic to bee stings, then that would be a different story). These bees burrow underground, colonies are generally small, but as with most colony insects there will be only one queen per hive. Unique among this species is that each colony contains different types of behavior, including bees that exhibit a social way of life that is typical of colony insects, but also present will be solitary specimens that lead a totally different life away from social instincts.
These bees are unmistakable in their appearance, the thorax is very vividly colored in green or dark orange and has a metallic sheen. The abdomen is banded with pale stripes and the wings are smoky to clear in color and have very dark veins. Look for them in gardens, meadows, roadsides, open fields, prairies, parks, etc. Typically anywhere flowers are present for them to be able to gather pollen or nectar.


  1. The bee on the echinacea certainly has a nice load of pollen. Great shot!

  2. Thank you Marvin, these bees are so pretty. Very vivid and colorful. They seem to love the coneflowers.

  3. I live in Millbury Ma and I was stung by this bee on my forarm and from my elbow to my wrist I got what felt like a zapping shock and my arm went numb for about 5 minutes. I don't know if this is a normal reaction but it was scary since I never heard or even seen such a bee. Today my cat gt stung by one that looked more like a hornet then a bee but he seems to be ok at the moment.