Cellophane bees are very bad at social distancing. In early spring, hundreds to thousands of males and females aggregate on sandy soil and in pines and cedar trees for weeks. Males swarm females in large groups termed “mating balls” and soon after females get down to business building nests. Although they are solitary, females work in a shared office space called a nesting aggregations and will do so for their four week life. Sometimes, when a female gets bored, she’ll even dip into the nest of another female. Certainly, they do not keep six feet away from each other in the narrow tunnel of the nest. Don’t be like cellophane bees.

Cellophane bees are very bad at social distancing. Here, several males have swarmed a female and are competing for the chance to mate with her. PC: Colletes succinctus, Nigel Jones, Flickr

That said, cellophane bees are a great distraction while you’re at home and living your best #quarantinelife. In New England, they will nest in your backyard starting in late-March/early-April, provided the sod isn’t too thick. Spending a bit of time watching them do their thing can be a fun distraction. Here’s a short video to help you get started finding your own cellophane bee nests. If you do find some, take a photo and get in touch! We’d love to hear what you find.

Female cellophane bees nest in close proximity. Each “volcano” of sand is called a tumulus and marks the entrance to a nest. PC: N. Dorian

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *