Mar 22, 2020
Agapostemon is a bee which belongs to the Halictidae family. The name means “which loves stamen”; stamen being the parts that produce pollen. Their brassy green color has them named “metallic green bees”. There are more green bees in the Halictidae family like the Augochorini, which are covered in a different article.
Agapostemon are only found in the Americas with approximatively 45 species, among which several species are distributed in the Caribbean Islands. The USA and Canada count 14 species. Most of the species are either on the West or on the East, the only exception being A. texanus which can stretch all across the USA.
All Agapostemon are generalist with no particular floral preference, however they will be found preferably on the plants in the sunflower family. This is where I can see them and all pictures show these bess on either wild or cultivated sunflowers.
All species nest in the ground and as they are not social bees, they tend to dig in isolation making their nest difficult to find. This being said, a few species will nest in commune, sharing an entrance but each digging her own tunnel. It is believed to be an opportunistic decision depending whether some other females are nearby. The nest can be built on vertical banks or on flat grounds. Often the nest is surrounded by a Tumulus, see picture below. The tunnel will be vertical on flat grounds or angle in a downslope from a cliff and will bifurcate with each branch ending on a single cell.
Most female are completely green, but a few species, like the female Agapostemon virescens has a green Thorax and a striped abdomen.
Agapostemon distribution is considered low in Mississippi, I believe this is the result of a lack of survey much more than the absence of the insect. It is fairly common in Hudsonville.