Identify bee in photo (found in Utah, USA)

Identify bee in photo (found in Utah, USA)

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A friend took this photo of a bee in his back yard in central Utah (© Jon Mott, CC-BY 3.0). I have no formal training in systematics or entomology, so to me everything looks like the bees' poster child Apis mellifera. Can someone with a bit more experience confirm or refute this?

Yes, this looks like Apis mellifera, which is also one of the most common bees you'll run into. If you have other pictures, you could check the identification tips at the bugguide page for the species.

As a side note, in general to really confirm an identification a specialist would need to see a collected specimen (that is, a live or pinned bee) as the distinctive characters (things like size, wing veins, or in this case, long hairs on the eye) may not be visible in photographs.

The Different Types of Honey Bees

Honey bees, like all other living things, vary among themselves in traits such as temperament, disease resistance, and productivity. The environment has a large effect on differences among bee colonies (for example, plants in different areas yield different honey crops), but the genetic makeup of a colony can also impact the characteristics that define a particular group. Beekeepers have long known that different genetic stocks have distinctive characteristics, so they have utilized different strains to suit their particular purpose, whether it be pollination, a honey crop, or bee production.

Bee Id Chart

Here below are the most common types of bee species, size, characteristics, population, and world region.
Honeybees are very important to animals and humans. Nearly 1/3 of the entire worlds food supply is accomplished from bee pollination.

European Honeybee

It has been said that honeybees are not native to the Americas that they were initially brought from Europe and caused Americas landscape big improvements through increased pollination to agriculture and cross pollination with plants.

Honeybees are the only insect that make food people normally eat. Honeybees live year round but are more dormant or quite during winter. When not in a bee box, honeybees are commonly observed on flowers. Less commonly honeybees can be observed as a giant swarm migrating  in a circular motion to a new home. Occasionally the swarm will land and rest on a tree  or shrub. From houses & buildings, honeybees may occasionally be observed as a handful of bees buzzing around a wall, eave, house chimney, or other structural opening. This website was created to provide information on how to get rid of bees based on the location of bees. In hot or dry seasons, honeybees may show up at water sources.

A new honeybee swarm may consist of 4,000 to 9,000 bees  , while an established beehive generally has 10,000 to 50,000 bees with 40 to 100 or more lbs.of honey (9 to 45kg). Respectively, there is no such thing as a small beehive! Unlike wasps & other stinging insects, bees can loose their stingers. If a person or animal is stung by a bee the ridged stinger of the bee  often gets stuck in the skin, dislodging from the bee and causing the bee to die shortly after. The average life span of a single honeybee is around 3 or 4 months, living slightly longer during winter

For may centuries honey was considered by the ancients to have healing powers and medicinal virtues only more recently did science prove this. Honey can be kept indefinitely. Honey should not at all be consumed by human infants. Honeybees are one of the only bee species that live year round as a hive. Bumblebees, carpenter bees, yellowjackets, wasps and hornets all flee the nest by late fall season to safely survive winter. Apart from this common european honeybee, other honeybee species exist from Europe, Africa, and Asia and are more native to those environments.

Africanized Honeybee

Cross-breeding Traits
The Africanized honey bee or ("hybrid honeybee") is very similar in size and genetic make up to their european honeybee neighbor. The AHB is a stronger more agile bee to tropical environments. The AHB is said to be less prone to effects of diseases that effect domesticated honeybees, though some believe that it may have more to do with how the bees are treated. Within the past decades, beekeepers & scientists have been cross breading european & african honeybees in efforts to improve the productivity of the honeybee relating to crops within the geo region, as well as & human interaction or temperament of the honeybee.

These hybrid bees have become the main source of beekeeping throughout Mexico and tropical Central and South America having improved honey production. Within the US, owners occasionally seek information on how to get rid of bees when nesting in structures. Bee removal from wall, roof, and eaves of the structure can be very difficult. -- pictures of bee removal. Central and south America experience less problems with bees nesting in structures because the houses are typically made of concrete and brick without common wall voids & attic voids were bees may build hives.

Spread of AHB map
Within the US, africanized /hybrid bees have been popularly identified in California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, and Florida. In the past these bees have been blamed when a bee attack occurs. The bees have naturally progressed within the Americas intermingling with the european honeybees originally brought from Europe. More presently within the US beekeepers are experimenting with hybrid bees. Speaking with beekeepers regulary around the US, many beekeepers prefer bees with the this hybrid dna strand or genome. The africanized /hybrid honeybee as mentioned, has not progressed as well in the cooler climate regions with long winters.

AHBs are said to be more protective of their home and can attack to defend it in great numbers they stay aggressive longer once disturbed. As with all honeybees: AHBs are aggravated by loud noises, vibrations, like all honeybees they loose there stinger  after stinging a human or animal. All honeybees can get provoked by certain smells such as fresh cut grass, bananas, as well as the breath of people and animals. Honeybees should be respected and care take when near a beehive.

Hive and size
Because of warmer winters, africanized bees do not need as large a hive body to survive the winter, traditionally keeping smaller hives compared to bees from colder climates like Europe. AHBs may experience difficulty in cooler climates as a larger quantity of bees /nuclease /hive body is needed to stay warm though a long winter. Additionally, with short winters bees from Africa do not typically store as much honey to survive a longer winter.

In Depth
Visit africanized honeybees for a more thorough in-depth read, migration paths, and beekeeping practices.

Bumble Bees

Bumblebees are commonly identified living in nests in smaller number from 15 to 50 bees. Nests start small in spring and grow larger during fall/autumn season. Bumblebees are near twice the size of a honeybee. In the mid & upper regions of the US and through Canada you are likely to see brighter more colorful bumblebees than in the lower portion of the US.

Bumblebees may build their homes in cavities of the ground such as an abandoned gopher hole, under a shed, or in other low to the ground places. Bumble bees are seasonal bees after fall season, only the queens survive, the nest is abandoned with the queen overwintering to survive their species to the following year, starting a new colony in the spring.

Like honeybees, bumblebees visit flowers to gather nectar and pollen, they are non-aggressive while traveling and foraging. They can be known to defend their hive aggressively and can sting multiple times as bumblebees don't lose their stinger. Compared with the past, it is widely believed that bumblebee species (like honeybees) have a more difficult environment to survive in due to pollution & climate changes.

Carpenter Bees

Male carpenter bees are identified as solid black, and surprisingly they cannot sting. Female carpenter bees are identified as brown in color and sting quite well. Carpenter bees are sometimes mistaken as bumblebees however carpenter bees are shiny, have fewer colors, and are less fuzzy /with less hair.

Like the bumblebee, carpenter bees average one inch in length. The carpenterbee flight is faster than a bumblebee, and is also a bit more jerky or zig zag, perhaps similar to a hummingbird. Carpenter bees are solitary bees their homes can be identified as they burrow holes into wood, the size of a dime or penny commonly into wood patio covers, eaves, and other structures.

Carpenter bees can cause damages when burrowing holes into wooden foundation structures These bees may become a nuisance when living in patio coverings close to the house.

Stingless Bee

Less common to America, stingless bees are natively found in tropical and semi /subtropical regions around the world. Many thousands of stingless bees species currently exist. The stingless bee is identified as not having a stinger and may bite to defend. Stingless bees are smaller and less aggressive than honeybees. They keep smaller hives than honeybees from a few hundred to thousands. Ranging in size from 1mm to 12mm (getting as large as 1/2 inch). Stingless bees nest in tree trunks, on branches, and ground cavities. Stingless bees are occasionally found around housing structure.

Stingless honeybees as pollinators are claimed to be a lesser a problem pest to home owners than honeybees, though they are outperformed by the honeybee both as pollinators and as honey producers. Stingless honeybees are very effective pollinators to small nano-areas that honeybees may not forage /visit. Stingless honeybees arrive to these smaller newly blossoming areas before the honeybee and thus is a great assistance with pollination to the areas beginning to blossom. In South America, the more newly integrated africanized /hybrid honey bees is said to have caused a slight though non-critical decline to the stingless bees of the region.

Wasp Identification

Some wasps look like bees! Visit the wasp identification guide to learn basic information on the most common types of wasps. Many types of wasp species currently exist.


Wasps are generally seen as a benefit to the environment. As predatory flying insects, wasps are a great source of organic pest control on gardens, farms, and crops. Wasps are not domesticated humans typically dont work with wasps like they do honeybees and stingless bees.

Commonly two types of wasps species exist: Solitary wasps and Social wasps. Social wasps live in large numbers. Wasp nests are abandoned in late autumn, the queens individually over-winter until spring. Wasps eat meaty things, including spiders and sweets. Wasps can be more hot-tempered than bees, they are to be treated with caution.

If you’re trying to eliminate nuisance wasps attached to your home or near an entryway, it is best done at sunset or very early in the morning. Wasps found inside the house may indicate a nest is living in the chimney or attic. How to get rid of bees. Below are pictures, identification, and habitat info, of common species of wasps that live within the U.S.

Yellow Jackets

Yellow jackets are sometimes called meat bees, sweet bees, or ground bees. Often mistaken for honeybees, yellow jackets are a little quicker, more slender, and are brighter yellow vs. the orange color  of honeybees. Yellow jackets do not forage on flowers, and do not carry yellow pollen  on the back of the legs. Yellow jackets can also be identified by a rapid side to side flight pattern prior to landing. They make great scavengers, eating meats, sweets. Yellow jackets are occasionally found in parks disrupting picnics or other events.

Nesting & aggression
The entry of a yellow jacket nest is a golf ball to softball size hole in the ground. yellow jackets defended their home very aggressively. Yellow jackets can sting repeatedly, they do not lose their stinger like a honeybee does  , and thus do not die after stinging. Stings often cause a swelling reaction followed by itching for a few days. Like wasps & bees, yellow jackets sting only in defense or by accident. Nests start out very small during springtime, then growing larger toward winter. Colonies can reach a large size size of 4,000 and 5,000 workers by August or early September. At wintertime nests are abandoned, then in the spring, individual queens commonly return to areas nearby to survive their species.

Occasionally yellow jackets nest in wall voids and attics, they can end up by accident in the house in large numbers. This is usually preceded by a noticeable slow growing wet spot on the ceiling caused by the yellow jacket nest. Every so often, a curious homeowner will poke or push their finger right through the deteriorating wall and end up with the unfortunate surprise of getting stung or chased. Buzzing from the nest can often be heard in the wall, though that would more commonly be a beehive. It’s generally considered unwise to try DIY bee removal on an active yellowjacket nest, hornet nest, or beehive without experience. Learn more regarding how to keep bees away.

Unlike honeybees that live year round, yellowjackets abandon their nest by late autumn. Yellowjackets like wasps, hornets, bumblebees, and carpenter bees, all abandon the nest by late autumn. During winter Yellowjacket queens will often hibernate structural voids and in attics until early spring. If you have un-wanted yellow jackets in your attic, to discourage them returning, in the winter you can put up some chemical cards labeled for yellowjackets. If you need help call the bee removal hotline.


Hornets or bald faced hornets are commonly identified as black with white stripes, and also as black with yellow stripes. A hornet may look similar to the shorter, more slender yellow jacket, hornets being near twice as long as a yellowjacket and also thicker/more bulky then a yellowjacket . Like yellowjackes, hornets are not fuzzy they are shiny. Hornets may behave slightly less aggressive than yellow jackets. Hornets and wasps can sting multiple times having a painful sting.

Hornets build randomly shaped nests from football to basket-ball or larger in size. Hornets can be found on tree branches, hallows, bushes, as well as houses and buildings, within attics and wall voids. When attached to a structure, or located in a problematic area Bee removal is commonly desired. Like most wasps and bees, hornets are defensive to anything within a close distance to the hive, or nest.

Paper Wasps

Paper wasps are long with yellow and rusty brown or black stripes. Paper wasp nests can be identified out in the open and under the eave structure of the roof-line.Nests a gray paper-like material honeycomb shaped, with larger nest sizes approaching the size of a tennis racket containing up to 50 wasps per nest. Paper wasps can be confused with hornets being similar in shape & size, though hornets typically have much larger hives and build nests within enclosed structures as well as non-structurally.

Paper wasps are often found hanging under the eaves, though also found in attics, trees. Paper wasps attack when the nest is disturbed or aggravated, they have a painful sting paper wasps can sting multiple times and do not lose their stinger, same as most wasps though unlike honeybees that can loose the stinger.

Occasionally paper wasps are found inside the house. This happens when a nest is living in the attic, they end up lost and inside the house perhaps though a ceiling fixture were light is entering into the attic. In this case the wasp goes to the light planning to get back outside though ends up in the house once inside wasps can navigate much better then honeybees, Wasps will typically hover around looking for an exit, while honeybees simply head strait toward the window or light.

Mud Wasps

As shown above, three common types of Mud Wasps exist: mud daubers, potter wasps, and pollen wasps. These mud wasps construct their homes from mud and clay. They are also a health form of organic pest control to gardens and crops. Mud wasp species are typically found in surrounding areas of each other. Mud wasps commonly nest on walls, in attics, under bridges, and in the ground.

Mud wasps are solitary wasps varying in size from 1/2 inch to 1-inch with relatively small nests. Prior to winter they abandon the mud nest, overwintering until spring time. At springtime mud wasps (like most wasps) often return to places of familiarity to build nests and carry on their species.

Mud Daubers

Mud daubers have a very compressed alien like look with a skinny needle like waist, they are sometimes called thread wasps or dirt daubers. Mud daubers are commonly identified by their hardened oval and tube shaped mud nests. Mud daubers nests rang from the size of a small peanut to the width of lemon.

The mud dauber species seldom sting and are not protective of their nests. Mud daubers typically attach under eaves, porches, walls and attics. Mud daubers prey on all types of spiders including black widows.

Potter Wasp

Sometimes called mason wasps, potter wasps build pot like or jug shaped nests smaller than a lemon. Of all wasp species in existence, potter wasps have the largest diversity of species classified into some two hundred groups as shown in wikipedia: potter wasp species.

Pollen Wasp

Pollen wasps are actually similar to many solitary bees. Feed their young entirely on nectar and pollen from flowers. Pollen wasps are sometimes mistaken for yellow jackets because of size similarity and because they burrow nests in the ground however pollen wasps can be identified by their large clubbed antennas and are much less aggressive. Rocks or crevices low to the earth make attractive nesting sites for pollen wasps.

Bee Id Chart

Sometimes wasps are mistaken for bees. Visit this bee identification chart to learn about the most common types of bees. Many types of bee species exist.

Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab

The USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Program designs and develops large and small scale surveys for native bees. As part of that program we also develop identification tools and keys for native bee species. One aspect of creating those tools is creating accurate and detailed pictures of native bees and the plants and insects they interact with.

Osmia near inurbana group 2, f, face, Porter co. Indiana(Credit: Sam Droege, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Public domain.)

Discover Life - free on-line tools to identify species, teach and study nature's wonders, report findings, build maps, process images, and contribute to and learn from a growing, interactive encyclopedia of life with 1,385,843 species pages and 778,580 maps.

Discover Life - Identification - Start the identification process by determining the bee genus you have by using this guide

Handy Bee Manual: How to Catch and Identify Bees and Manage a Collection - A Collective and Ongoing Effort by Those Who Love to Study Bees in North America

Social Media

4,000 Ultra Hi-Res Public Domain Images from our Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab - This Flickr site is designed to provide easy access to our photographs so that they may be freely used. There is no need to ask for our permission for any use of these photographs.

USGS Native Bee Lab - Follow us on Tumblr includes detailed information about bee species

Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory - Follow us on Instagram and enjoy our photography and stories about bees and the laboratory.

Ceratina smaragdula, male, and introduced bee, Hawaii, Oahu, March 2012(Public domain.)

More brilliant greens, blues, and purples from the metallic mason bees of western North America. This one (O. aglaia) comes from Yosemite National Park , where Claire Kremen's group has been looking at post burn bee communities in areas of chronic burns. Photograph by Anders Croft.(Credit: Anders Croft. Public domain.)

And now. Ceratina from Asia! Vietnam to be exact. The overall shape and aspect of Ceratinaness remains but what lovely facial colors or maculations as the old literature calls them. A betting person would use the patterns of past specimens to guess that the female will have fewer maculations, but the stripe running down the center of the clypeus will remain. From the depths of the Packer Lab at York University.(Public domain.)

Monarda didyma 2, Beebalm, Howard County, MD, Helen Lowe Metzman(Credit: Sam Droege, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Public domain.)

Phidippus clarus, Beltsville, Maryland, thanks to Charlie Davis for determination(Public domain.)

More Velvet Ant pictures. who wouldn't want more shots of this Badass Cowkiller? This one from Arkansas sent live in the mail by our correspondent FT. Its good to have such friends. Photos by Wayne Boo.(Credit: Wayne Boo. Public domain.)

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Unlike honey bees (Apis) or bumblebees (Bombus), Osmia species are solitary every female is fertile and makes her own nest, and no worker bees for these species exist. [1]

When the bees emerge from their cocoons, the males exit first. The males typically remain near the nests waiting for the females, and some are known to actively extract females from their cocoons. When the females emerge, they mate with one or several males. The males soon die, and within a few days the females begin provisioning their nests.

Osmia females typically nest in narrow gaps and naturally occurring tubular cavities. [1] Commonly, this means in hollow twigs but can be in abandoned nests of wood-boring beetles or carpenter bees, in snail shells, under bark, or in other small protected cavities. [4] They do not excavate their own nests. The material used for the cell can be clay, mud, grit, or chewed plant tissue. The palearctic species O. avosetta is one of a few species known for lining their nest burrows with flower petals. [5] A female might inspect several potential nests before settling in.

Within a few days of mating, the female has selected a nest site and has begun to visit flowers to gather pollen and nectar for her nests many trips are needed to complete a pollen/nectar provision mass. [6] Once a provision mass is complete, the bee backs into the hole and lays an egg on top of the mass. [7] Then, she creates a partition of "mud", which doubles as the back of the next cell. [7] The process continues until she has filled the cavity. [7] Female eggs are laid in the back of the nest and male eggs toward the front.

Once a bee has finished with a nest, she plugs the entrance to the tube, and then may seek out another nest location. [7]

Within weeks of hatching, the larva has probably consumed all of its provisions and begins spinning a cocoon around itself and enters the pupal stage, and the adult matures either in the fall or winter, hibernating inside its insulatory cocoon. [8] Most Osmia species are found in places where the temperature drops below 0 °C (32 °F) for long durations and they are well-adapted to cold winters chilling seems to be a requirement for maturation. [2] Some species of mason bees are semi-voltine, meaning that they have a two-year maturation cycle, with a full year (plus) spent as a larva. [1]

Solitary bees produce neither honey nor beeswax. They are immune from acarine and Varroa mites, but have their own unique parasites, pests, and diseases. The nesting habits of many Osmia species lend themselves to easy cultivation, and a number of Osmia species are commercially propagated in different parts of the world to improve pollination in fruit and nut production. [9] Commercial pollinators include O. lignaria, O. bicornis, O. cornuta, O. cornifrons, O. ribifloris, and O. californica. They are used both as an alternative to and as an augmentation for European honey bees. Mason bees used for orchard and other agricultural applications are all readily attracted to nesting holes – reeds, paper tubes, nesting trays, or drilled blocks of wood in their dormant season, they can be transported as intact nests (tubes, blocks, etc.) or as loose cocoons. [10] As is characteristic of solitary bees, Osmia species are very docile and rarely sting when handled (only under distress such as when wet or squeezed) their sting is small and not painful, and their stinger is unbarbed.

Behavioral Identification

Absent the help of a bee expert, you may be able to recognize killer bees by their significantly more aggressive behavior when compared to their more docile European counterparts. African honeybees defend their nests vigorously.

An African honey bee colony may include 2,000 soldier bees, ready to defend and attack if a threat is perceived. European honey bees typically have just 200 soldiers guarding the hive. Killer bees also produce more drones, which are the male bees that mate with new queens. While both kinds of bees will protect the hive if attacked, the intensity of the response is very different. A European honey bee defense will usually include 10 to 20 guard bees to respond to a threat within 20 yards of the hive. An African honey bee response would send several hundred bees with a range six times greater of up to 120 yards.

Killer bees react quicker, attack in greater numbers, and pursue a threat longer than other honey bees. African bees will respond to a threat in less than five seconds, while the calmer European bees may take 30 seconds to react. A victim of a killer bee attack may suffer 10 times as many stings as from a European honey bee attack.

Killer bees also tend to stay agitated longer. European honey bees usually calm down after about 20 minutes of being agitated. Meanwhile, their African cousins can remain upset several hours following a defensive incident.

Identify bee in photo (found in Utah, USA) - Biology

Last updated: 4 October, 2005

    Carpenter Bees
    Carpenter bees are found throughout the world. They are very diverse in size and general characteristics, ranging from the very small, almost hairless bees of the Ceratina genus to the larger, stiffly bristled Xylocopa bees. The Xylocopa and the Ceratina are the only native North American genera. Xylocopinae are unique in that they store food for the adults to feed on. Like many members of the family Apidae, they are a social bee, with more than one adult at one nest site. The bees in the Xylocopinae make their homes in pithy stems, or they will chew into wood to create chambered or nonchambered nests. Ceratina bees prefer to build their nests in plant material whereas the Xylocopa will nest in dead or live logs and other types of wood.

According to Michener, there are four tribes and fourteen genera of the Xylocopinae. They are found in tropical and temperate regions worldwide. Similarities in size and coloration makes it easy for one to confuse the Xylocopinae with the bumblebees. However, unlike bumblebees, Xylocopinae have no regulated caste system with workers, queens and drones. The adult bees are either female or male there is no specific worker class, although young adults stay with their mother for a period of time, often until they are mature. Although they do not have a specialized social structure like the bumblebees, they do have divisions of labor within their "family."

Ground nesting bees in your backyard!

Not all bees live in hives like honey bees do. In fact, 70% of all the 20,000 species of bees nest under ground. In North America, most of these ground bees become active in early spring. Nests of these bees are easy to identify above ground because of the conical piles of dirt with a large hole in the middle that serves as the entrance to the bee burrows (Photo 2).

One of the most abundant ground nesting bees in northeastern and midwestern region of North America is Colletes inaequalis (photo 1). Even though this bee is solitary, meaning that every individual female builds her own nest, it is also a gregarious nester (photo 2). Many females (hundreds and sometime thousands) build their nests next to each other. The nests are obvious above ground because of the conical piles of dirt with a hole in the middle (photo 2). Colletes inaequalis has a strong preference for sandy soils on south facing slopes. Thus, if you have these conditions in your backyard, you may find these bees showing up every year where you live. Unlike social bees and wasps, solitary species are not aggressive insects even though females do have sting. These bees will not attempt to sting humans unless handled. Most activity at nest sites in early spring is of males looking for females to mate with &ndash male bees cannot sting (photo 3).

Besides C. Inaequalis, many other ground nesting native bees can be found in your backyard. For example, species of the bee genera Agapostemon, Andrena, Halictus and Lasioglossum are also very abundant in North America (photo 4 - 6). All of these native bee species provide important ecological services that include pollinating many of the plants in your garden and nearby. Specifically, Colletes inaequalis and similar looking Andrena species are important pollinators of spring crops like apples, blueberries and cherries. Therefore, we do not consider these bees as pests and strongly recommend avoiding the use of chemicals to control them. Pesticides are bad for humans and beneficial insects. Usually, using water over the area of the nest is enough to encourage the bees to look for a different nesting area. However, due to their beneficial role as pollinators and their lack of aggressive behavior, please consider maintaining these important bee pollinators in your backyard!

Photo 5: Andrena sp. female excavating soil
Credit: Jason Gibbs

Photo 6: Halictus ligatus female next to a larva on top of a pollen mass
Credit: Jason Gibbs

Photo1: Colletes inaequalis female
Credit: Margarita López-Uribe

Photo 2: Colletes inaequalis nest aggregation
Credit: Margarita López-Uribe
Photo 3: Colletes inaequalis males around a female
Credit: Jason Gibbs
Photo 4: Agapostemon sp. female at the entrance of her nest
Credit: Laura Russo