The next article is written for the Ripples from the Dunes collection, by Jessica Johnsrud, Training Coordinator for the Woodland Dunes Nature Heart.
Lately I used to be weeding outdoors and observed a few fuzzy black and yellow bugs flying low to the bottom. I initially thought they have been bumblebees, however upon additional inspection, I spotted they have been mining bees. I noticed as one popped out of the sandy soil, then flew to a close-by dandelion.
Mining bees are native to Wisconsin and are one of many earliest bees seen within the spring. They’re one in every of over 1200 solitary bees in North America and are sometimes mistaken for bumblebees due to their stout construct and furry physique. Nonetheless, they’re much smaller than a bumblebee, sizing as much as 1 / 4 to a half-inch in size. They’re non-aggressive bugs and infrequently sting.
Mining bees get their title as a result of they tunnel into the bottom to make their nests. They like to dig into well-drained soils and also will burrow in areas between stones in previous buildings or between logs in cabins or barns.
As soon as a nesting location is chosen, the feminine will excavate a vertical tunnel a couple of inches deep with an entrance that’s concerning the diameter of a quantity two pencil. A certain signal of a mining bee nest is a pile of filth left close to the doorway. Mining bees might nest in the identical location for a number of years. Mining bees tolerate one another and if many nests are clustered collectively, females solely present for their very own.
Every tunnel has a number of facet branches with chambers for the eggs. The feminine waterproofs the cells utilizing a waxy substance she creates from a gland in her stomach. To supply for her future offspring, the feminine will even depart rolled-up balls of nectar and pollen in every chamber. As soon as she’s mated with a male, she’s going to lay a single egg on prime of the meals provisions after which seal the chamber off.
As soon as the eggs hatch, the larvae keep within the chamber and eat the meals that was offered for them. Then they overwinter in a prepupae state and won’t emerge till spring. They reside for about one month after rising to breed.
Mining bees are buzz pollinators which suggests they vibrate their flight muscle tissues and trigger the flower to surrender its pollen. The free pollen then will get caught within the mining bee’s furry legs and physique. Mining bees are essential pollinators within the Midwest for wildflowers, apples, different fruit timber, blueberries, huckleberries and orchids.
Mining bees are simply one in every of many attention-grabbing native pollinators in Wisconsin. There may be a lot selection within the insect world and even the smallest of those creatures is worthy of appreciation.