Euglossa is the scientific name of the orchid bees. Orchid bees are beautifully colored in metallic green, blue and copper tones, striking enough to stop you in your tracks when you notice them. They live in tropical places, most of which are located in Central and South America, however, some do live in Florida. The most obvious way to find orchid bees is to first locate orchid blooms, or blue and violet flowers, and the striking colors of these bees will give them away.
Collecting nectar and pollen is most important to female orchid bees, along with collecting resin for building nests. The resin is used to partition between individually developing orchid bees, and to seal the front of the nesting cavity to keep the developing young safe from predation. Female orchid bees are cavity nesters, which means they look for existing cavities to build a humble nest of young bees. She then collects pollen and nectar for her young as they grow, which is different from her tunnel nesting cousins, the leafcutter bee and mason bee, and many other solitary bees who will leave a large provision for the developing bee to feed on in their absence. From the appearance of this nest, orchid bees might have been social at one time in their ancestry, as their nest looks much like the nest of a bumblebee. Interestingly, these bees to occasionally share nests with sisters and work as a team to raise their young. It’s hard work providing food to every mouth as they need it!
This photo by Paul Bisceglio, and the associated article from the Smithsonian can be found HERE.
Males, on the other hand, like to smell good, so they look for various sources to collect scents that will attract females. This is where the orchid bee gets its name, because often, males are found swarming around orchid blooms, collecting the perfumes to be stored on their hind legs. In the process of collecting the perfumes, male orchid bees become the primary pollinators of orchids, and you can view male orchid bees doing just that in this VIDEO from the movie, Wings of Life by Disney Nature. Here’s a video of a male resting on a leaf, as they do not sleep in the nests females have built. This footage is so great!
I hope you enjoyed learning about a new bee species our planet benefits from! Cheers to joining the movement! If you are hungry for a little more footage, HERE YA GO!