An Approach to Ensenada Native Bees

Tiempo de lectura | Reading time: 5 minutos

Did you know that there are approximately 500 species of bees in Ensenada?

By Diego de Pedro 

Ensenada has a high richness bee diversity. This is because it is placed in the California Floristic Province, one of the most bee diverse regions in the world.

Male of Anthophora crotchii taken with an electronic stereoscope. Photo by Diego de Pedro.

Unlike honey bees (Apis mellifera), which are originally from Europe and Africa, native bees have been present in the peninsula for millions of years. This has made it possible to diverge in hundreds of different species adapted to the native flora. Bees are the most diverse group of pollinators from the California Floristic Province. They are so diverse that you can find bees of different sizes and body forms. Also, there are solitary and social bees.

Male of Diadasia sp. Photo by Diego de Pedro.

Some of the most abundant groups of bees in Ensenada are presented below:

Sweat bees

The Halictini tribe is also known as sweat bees due to observations of them sucking the sweat of people. These bees are of small to medium size (3 millimeters to 1 centimeter approximately.) and nest in loam or sandy soil and they could be both solitary or social nesters. There are three different genus in Ensenada: Agapostemon, Halictus and Lasioglossum

Female of Agapostemon sp collecting pollen. Photo by Luz Abril Garduño.

It’s very common to find them in parks, gardens and in fields visiting a high flowers variety. Agapostemon males are green in the anterior body part, and yellow-black banded in the posterior. While the females of most Agapostemon species are completely green.

Digger bees

The bees of the Anthophorini tribe, are medium to big size bees (5mm to 15 mm approx.), with very hairy legs useful to collect pollen. They usually nest in soil, sand and sandstone. That’s why they are known as digger bees.

In Baja California it is possible to find two genera of this group: Anthophora and Habropoda the first one being more abundant. Digger bees visit a high diversity of flowers, and it is common to see them in sage and chaparral currant. They are very fast fliers and some species like Anthophora californica are striking because of their white neat bands.

Female of Anthophora californica taken with an electronic stereoscope. Photo by Diego de Pedro.

Chimney bees

Diadasia is the only genus of Emphorini tribe in Ensenada and are known under chimney bees name because they use to build small chimney-shaped nest entrances. Diadasia species are also known as cactus bees since some species only visit cactus flowers. Although, some species are specialists in composite flowers (Asteraceae). In Ensenada they are commonly observed on mallow flowers where males sleep. 

Male of Diadasia sp. Photo by Diego de Pedro.

These are a few of the approximately 500 species known in Ensenada municipality. To take care of them you can plant some native flowers in your garden as sage, mallows, manzanitas and California sunflowers. Also, succulents and cactus flowers are very attractive for bees.

Male of Diadasia sp. sleeping on a flower (Calochortus weedii). Photo by Diego de Pedro.

About the author

Diego has a Master of Science and specializes in the ecology of bees. Arthropod Museum of Baja California, CICESE. Email: diego@cicese.edu.mx   

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