By Alicia Alexander, IPM Intern
Sweat bees get their name from being attracted to the salts in human perspiration. Sweat bee is a common name for a large family of bees called Halictidae. These bees can vary greatly in appearance. Less than an inch long, some of them can be plump while others are more slender. Sweat bees are usually either black or a metallic color. They are more solitary bees however some species do socialize but not as much as the honeybee. They have a wide range of social behavior that depends on the species. Sweat bees feed on nectar they collect from plants and aphids. They have pollen baskets on their legs and collect pollen. Most females lay eggs in rotten wood that was once occupied by other insects or in dry loose soil. They create cells underground filled with nectar and pollen. An egg is laid in each cell then sealed. The larva feeds on the pollen and nectar. There’s a parasitic species that invades other nests and lays her egg on their stored food. The larva will then eat the host larva and consume its food.
Sweat bees are important pollinators for crops and wildflowers. These bees aren’t aggressive but the female sweat bee will sting if handled roughly. The males will bite or pinch. Both are considered to be painless.