Writing this blog has been so educational. Until just now, the term “long-horned” has brought images of Texas cattle to my mind. Moments ago, digging online, I learned that there is a genus of bees, the Melissodes in the Eucerini tribe, that are called long-horned bees. I got there trying to identify the bee whose photo I took the other day, when it was climbing out of the flower of an iceplant on the west shore of the park. Here it is. You can see the long horns:
Still, getting this far doesn’t fully identify the bee. There are many species of Eucerini (long-horned) bees, so many that there is (according to Wikipedia) considerable chaos among taxonomists in classifying them. I’ve submitted an Id request to bugguide.net, but they’re so swamped right now, with new requests coming in every few minutes, that I don’t expect an answer real soon. All I can say with some certainty is that this one is a male. The females have shorter antennae (“horns”); go figure.
These bees live underground and generally operate in a solitary manner, not in organized groups like the honeybees. Bay Nature magazine’s writer Beth Slatkin interviewed local bee expert Gordon Frankie at UC Berkeley’s Urban Bee Lab in 2014 about these and other local bees. Read the article for great bee background.