Bug Day (11) Miserable Mining Bee

Miserable Mining Bee (Andrena miserabilis)

I’ve dug for a good bit of time to find why this sweet little bee is tagged “miserable” and have failed. It’s one of the perhaps 2000 species worldwide that are known as mining bees. That’s a bit of a misnomer because they don’t excavate for the purpose of extracting resources from the ground, as miners do. Like the familiar owls, they should be called burrowing bees. They dig burrows, preferably in bare ground, about half in inch in diameter and four to six inches deep, sometimes with side chambers. Each female bee digs its own burrow, but if there are many, they will dig their burrows in close proximity, like a village. These bees emerge very early in the spring. In areas with snow, they may emerge even if there are patches of snow still on the ground. As soon as they emerge they try to mate, and that accomplished, go into their burrows, lay their eggs, and then forage for pollen as nutrition for the eggs when they hatch. They are very active pollinators, and play an important economic role in pollinating early blooming fruit trees such as cherries, peaches, and apples, as well as berries and early flowers. They are smaller than most honey bees. They’re not aggressive, and their stingers are too fragile to puncture human skin. They live four to six busy weeks. By the time this post publishes, their season is probably over, and we won’t see them again until early next year.

More about them: Wikipedia (1) Wikipedia (2) Sharp-Eatman Ontario D.W. Ribble Honeybeesuite

Tomorrow: Jumping Spider

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One thought on “Bug Day (11) Miserable Mining Bee

  • Cresson named 10 new species of Andrena in that 1872 paper. He doesn’t explain why he gave the specific epithet, “miserabilis”, to that one species. For some of the other Andrena, the reasons for the names are clear, or at least more suggestive.

    He was explicit about his opinion on several of the new species named, e.g., he called two of them “a pretty species”, and “a very pretty species”, respectively. Perhaps this species was, in comparison to those two and all the other new species he named then, a bit on the less good-looking side and/or had no particularly notable characteristics upon which to draw for a species name (e.g., the species he named A. melliventris ?

    He named ~300 new species (out of ~600 total species identified) in that paper –lots of species names to conjure up.

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