In honor of Pollinator Week, I’d like to introduce a regular guest of my garden. Meet Agapostemon texanus*, also known as the “Metallic Green Bee,” also known as the “Ultra-Green Sweat Bee.” I swear I’m not making that up.
*I’m not 100% certain about the species; there are a number of Agapostemon cousins, and the distinguishing features aren’t that easy to spot on a live bee half the size of your pinky nail. If you know for sure, please leave a comment.
These shiny little green bees are just one of more than 80 varieties of bee found in this area. (There are about about 25,000 different species of bees worldwide!)
Unlike the honeybee, which was brought over from Europe, most of the bees around here are natives. Fortunately, many are happy to forage on introduced plants, making them important pollinators in the garden and for our agricultural crops. (If you really want to attract native bees, though, plant some native flowers.)
Where to see pollinators in action
If you’re walking by my garden and want to look for these or other bees, check the onion flowers, the crimson clover, the thyme and other flowering plants in the herb garden, or other vegetables that have bolted — especially the ones with lots of tiny flowers.
Encourage native bees: skip the mulch
Interesting fact: most native bees are solitary, and make their tiny nests in the soil. Each female digs a tiny tunnel and provisions it with nectar and pollen for her offspring, then seals the eggs inside.
Mulch is a huge problem for ground-nesting bees in cities, where most of the ground is either paved or mulched. While mulch can help conserve water and block weeds, it also prevents the bees from making their nests. Leave the soil around your flowering plants uncovered, and the bees will thank you.