Bees play a crucial role in pollination. They carry pollen with hairs on their legs. Bees have a crucial role in pollination in Ohio.
It’s estimated there are more than 500 bee species in the state. The following species are considered the most common in the state.
1. Common Eastern Bumble Bee
The most common bee species in Ohio is known for eating honey. To make honey, the Common Eastern Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens) has to collect nectar and pollen.
Both nectar and pollen are swallowed and then regurgitated to make honey which is a mix with saliva and enzymes of the digestive system.
These bees like to eat honey given it has higher nutritional value. Otherwise, they have known as bees that nest in the ground.
Common Eastern Bumble Bees are some of the most dedicated bees that create underground tunnels.
Unlike in other species that live underground, the Common Eastern Bumble Bee digs long tunnels. These can measure anywhere between 18 inches and 9 feet long.
There’s a clear division of labor in the tunnels. Since they’re so long, these bees need to stay organized to maintain the tunnels.
This is why there’s a small percentage of bees that only stay in a given part of the underground nest. The way these tunnels are split by the workforce is in proximity to the center of the nest.
2. Western Honey Bee
The Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) is the most common in Ohio. This species is highly domesticated by local beekeepers.
It nests well in beehives and most importantly, it produces a lot of honey with good resistance to cold weather and diseases.
These bees are also excellent beeswax producers. They use a system of internal body heat regulation (they need 95F degrees to produce beeswax) to properly function.
The Western Honey Bee is a eusocial species. It lives in communities under a queen. These bees have been studied thoroughly for communication.
The Western Honey Bee communicates through dancing. Certain dancing or shifts in flight pattern indicates the distance to food sources or the availability of food in a certain area.
These bees resist common diseases but they also have natural predators. Robber flies are among its common natural predators.
3. Eastern Carpenter Bee
The Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica) nests in wood. Common in Ohio, this species is known for creating tunnels used as nests in wood.
The bees chew wood and use wood shavings to create barriers or walls inside of the nest. The queen is mostly responsible for nest-building and caring.
The Eastern Carpenter bee queen is one of the few queens to entirely take care of the nest. Other worker bees are mostly tied to defending the nest as maintenance tasks aren’t attributed to them.
It’s believed this species is a transitionary period to eusocial bees. The Eastern Carpenter Bee is neither eusocial nor a solitary species as it lives in small groups but the queen does most of the work.
These bees mostly eat pollen and nectar. However, they have a reduced pollination role in the state. The species can even harm pollination.
Eastern Carpenter Bees have developed a flower-piercing tactic that bypasses pollination while they access the nectar.
This means they don’t have a role in pollination. They even hinder fruit production in several species across the state.
4. Brown-belted Bumble Bee
The Brown-belted Bumble Bee (Bombus griseocollis) is a common species in the state. It nests underground but it’s mostly seen when nesting above ground (believed to also happen in Ohio).
The species has unique characteristics starting with how it looks. A bee is made up of a head, thorax, and abdomen. The head of the Brown-belted Bumble Bee is yellow-golden while its abdomen is black.
The species is eusocial which means it lives in groups. However, these are very small groups compared to other species in the state.
Only up to 50 Brown-belted Bumblebees live together in a nest.
This means the bees have to be aggressive to properly defend it. This aggressive trait has been confirmed by research.
The bees also stand out when it comes to mating habits. Larvae incubation is generally a task for female bees.
In the case of Brown-belted Bees incubation is also a task performed by males. They wrap their abdomen around the cocoon mimicking female incubation.
5. Two-spotted Bumble Bee
These are some of the most common bees in Ohio and the US. They aren’t endangered as other bumblebees.
The Two-spotted Bumble Bee (Bombus bimaculatus) gets its name from the two yellow spots on its abdomen. The bee can be seen around the woods, especially on the edge of the woods.
It’s here that these bees look for plums, willow, mint, and clover. The queen is seen foraging plums and willow. Worker bees of the species prefer mint and red clover.
The species is also known to resemble the Brown-belted Bumble Bee (Bombus griseocollis) species in mating behavior. Males help with incubation as well.
These bees have a beneficial role. They pollinate plants even in adverse conditions.
Even when the weather is bad, the bees keep on pollinating. Two-spotted Bumble Bees pollinate on cloudy days and even on rainy days.
6. Pure Green-Sweat Bee
These bees (Augochlora pura) are known for having a vivid green head, thorax, and abdomen. They are social bees that live in groups.
However, the species is known for a few particularities rarely seen in other Ohio bees.
For example, these bees nest underground starting from the burrows of other bees.
These are seen as starting points as the bees use these burrows to start digging a series of tunnels. Plant fibers and wax is used to give strength to these new tunnels.
The bees are separated in the next as females and males. Female Pure Green-Sweat bees have the reproductive capacity and they live together.
Males live in separate groups.
Both males and females are known for eating nectar and pollen. Over 40 plant species are the wide source of pollen for these species.
Other distinct traits include innate female bee aggression. Females are highly defensive of the nest. Sometimes females become aggressive to their offspring.
Female bees have also been shown to have a large degree of independence as they never live in the same nest as their mothers.
7. Ligated Furrow Bee
These brown and yellow bees (Halictus ligatus) are highly common in loose grounds around the state. The bees are known pollinators that live in the ground.
Ligated Furrow Bees are known for their aggression. They are aggressive towards each other and towards other species.
They live underground in nests established either by a single female or by multiple females.
Hierarchy dominates the social structure of these bees. Nests established by multiple females eventually get a clear hierarchy as one female is dominant while others take on defensive duties.
These bees pollinate multiple plants in the state. They always prefer the plants that have the highest concentration of protein in the nectar and pollen.
8. Golden Northern Bumble Bee
The species (Bombus fervidus) is seen as a large pollinator of crops. The Golden Northern Bumble Bee is among the few species in the state interested in foraging pollen from food crops.
While beneficial in general, these bees are aggressive towards humans. They see people as threats and they can sting if people get too close to their nests.
Golden Northern Bumble Bees nest in the ground or above the ground. They use cavities and holes as nests underground.
The bees use grass and grass fibers to build nests above the ground. Females are large and dominant. They build nests.
Male Golden Northern Bumble Bee only have reproduction roles as they aren’t guarding nests.
Queen Golden Northern Bumble Bees also get in conflict with worker female bees of the species. While other females can’t lay eggs that turn into females they can lay unfertilized eggs which later turn into male bees.
9. Two-spotted Longhorn Bee
These bees (Melissodes bimaculatus) are common in Ohio and neighboring Northern states. They are known for collecting pollen mainly from agricultural fields.
A role in pollination is associated with these bees, especially for crops.
Physical appearances make for easy identification of the species. These black bees have two light-color spots on the abdomen.
While variations of the species exist, all sub-species come with 2 light spots on the abdomen.
These bees are known for consuming pollen, rarely been associated with gathering pollen.
Growing evidence suggests the females of the species are sometimes gathering pollen for larva in the nest on the other hand.
10. Bicolored Striped Sweat Bee
These bees (Agapostemon virescens) are identified by sex according to their colors. Female Bicolored Striped Sweat Bees have a metallic green body with white and black stripes on the abdomen.
Male bees have a metallic green upper body with yellow and black stripes on the lower body.
They are known for living in solitude, mostly nests below the ground.
Pollen and nectar are the preferred food source.
Eggs are laid in individual underground chambers where bees also store pollen for emerging bees.
11. Perplexing Bumble Bee
This is a native species highly common in Ohio. These bees (Bombus perplexus) are instantly-recognizable through their black body with pale hairs on the thorax and the head.
Female worker bees are known for having more hairs than the queen.
Males have a similar number of hairs. However, hairs on the thorax and the head of the male bee are white and not yellow.
The preferred habitat of the Perplexing Bumble Bee is a wetland. The species has adapted to further habitats such as woodlands and gardens.
The bees are sometimes seen in urban gardens as well.
Perplexing Bumble Bees are known for traveling short distances to find their favorite plants and flowers.
Some of the preferred plants include thistle and bellflowers. Honeysuckle shrubs also attract these bees in the spring and summer months.
12. European Woolcarder Bee
These species have been accidentally introduced to the US before 1963. It has evolved and reproduced considerably since then.
The European Woolcarder Bee (Anthidium manicatum) is one of the territorial species in Ohio. Males are known to be highly aggressive and territorial towards other males of the species during their reproduction lifecycle.
Female bees are known to constantly mate in their reproductive lifecycle. While there’s no particular selection process for the males, the species is known for being one of the few where the male bee is larger than the female bee.
This is one of the reasons female European Woolcarder Bees aren’t as specific in selecting males as other bee species.
Other data suggests males of the species are territorial to stop other males from eating all of the local pollen (specifically from blue flower species) leaving females without any food.
These bees are highly interested in consuming pollen and nectar. Territorial disputes with other bees of the same species limit access to these preferred flowers.
The species nests in the ground in existing cavities. This is where they bring rolled-up plant fiber balls to lay eggs on.
13. American Bumble Bee
The American Bumble Bee (Bombus pensylvanicus) is a widespread species in Ohio. These bees are common throughout the country and they represent a declining species through environmental impact factors.
These bees are known for living in colonies. Some of the largest colonies of American Bumble Bees can be as large as 200 individuals. The colonies are based around nests.
Preferred nesting habitats for these bees are tall grass and burrows. Tallgrass is ideal for making large nests.
The American Bumble Bee sometimes nests underground. The nests of birds can serve as temporary nests for the colonies.
These bees sometimes use the nests of rodents to establish their colonies and to lay eggs.
American Bumble Bee species is dominated by a queen. The queen produces a certain chemical that allows other female bees to lay eggs.
The queen can also stop producing this chemical that stops ovarian production in other females. Other females might only make male bees following this stage.
Pollen and nectar are the main food of the species. But these bees are also seen as food for local birds in the state. Crab spiders also eat American Bumble Bees.
14. Lemon Cuckoo-Bumble Bee
The Lemon Cuckoo-Bumble Bee (Bombus citrinus) gets its name from its pale yellow color sometimes referred to as lemon yellow.
This species is native to the US, particularly to the Eastern parts of the country.
However, its popularity is high as a parasitic bee. Parasitic bees take control of other bee colonies.
The Lemon Cuckoo-Bumble Bee is known for its parasitic behavior asserting its dominance over other Bumble bee species.
It uses sneaking tactics such as mimicking chemical scents to enter a neighboring nest. The queen is killed once inside together with her eggs and larva.
All the existing worker bees of a nest are controlled by this parasitic species from this moment.
The newly-installed bees now start to nest. They lay eggs which are always taken care of by the host female bees.
15. Unequal Cellophane Bee
These bees (Colletes inaequalis) are known for living in habitats rich in red maple, plums, apples, or bushy willows. They nest next to or under these trees.
Underground nesting is characteristic of the species. Holes can be seen in the ground with a bit of excavated mud around them.
On sunny days, female bees are visible at the entrance to the burrows where they relax in the sun.
These bees love warm weather and they appear in March living only until June.
Sights in August and September are rare.
Males are seen a bit more frequently compared to females. If the females spend a lot of time underground males spend a lot of time outside of the nest.
Males are seen patrolling the area of the nest. It’s believed they are territorial stopping other males from mating with the females.
16. Half-black Bumble Bee
These bees (Bombus vagans) only appear late in the season. The first Half-black Bumble bees are only seen in May.
Small colonies are characteristic of the species. Colonies of up to 70 individuals are common.
All of these individuals are categorized. A part of the colony is categorized for males, another part for females, while the queen rules.
Queen bees of the species are only interested in apples and plums. The blossom of these fruit trees is where the queen is found many times of the day.
Worker female bees are seen foraging red clover.
Male Half-black Bumble Bees forage aster.
While these bees appear late in the season they still have numerous enemies. They are sometimes paralyzed or completely taken over by other bee species such as the parasitic Lemon Cuckoo Bumblebee.
17. Black-and-gold Bumble Bee
This bee species (Bombus auricomus) is native to the Northern US and parts of Southern Canada. It features black and yellow coloration on the body and the head.
While believed to be a sub-species of the Nevada Bumblebee, it’s now seen as a separate species.
Like the Half-Black Bumble Bee, this species prefers shaded places such as forestland. It also lives in areas with tall grass.
It’s here that there’s a wide variety of plants to forage on. This includes thistle and dalea plants.
18. Oblong Woolcarder Bee
This golden-black bee (Anthidium oblongatum) is part of the Anthidium genus. It’s seen around the world with a common presence across multiple continents.
In Ohio, it’s largely found in grassland and dry gardens where there are many flowers for it to visit and forage. The species prefers flowers that grow in grassland and next to forests.
These bees are known for nesting underground. They create simple tunnels which are never wider than 5mm to crawl into.
Nesting sites are diverse as the species is well adapted to Ohio. This is why it is seen at different elevations all across the state.
19. Spring Beauty Miner
These bees (Andrena erigeniae) are solitary but they never live at a considerable distance from one another. They are known to nest inside the ground.
Female Spring Beauty Miner bees are known for setting up nest sites. Up to 20 females can dig burrows in the ground on a small surface of just a few square feet.
They use these nests as perfect locations to lay eggs in and for the larvae to grow.
Pollen is used to feed larvae and bees are known to continuously bring pollen inside of the nest for their offspring.
The species is known for collecting pollen all day, multiple times per day.
Worker bees start collecting pollen early in the morning returning with it to the nest to feed offspring not later than 10 AM.
20. Sculptured Resin Bee
The species (Megachile sculpturalis) isn’t native to the US as it was introduced from Japan. It has adapted well to Northern states, however.
These bees are known for nesting in wood and between pieces of wood.
Female bees eat through wood and wood resin as their name suggests.
They can be seen through the state in the summer anywhere between June and September.
Furthermore, these bees stand out in body size compared to most other Ohio bees.
Known for their long bodies, the females of the species can measure up to 22mm. Males of the species are even longer measuring up to 25mm.
21. Orange-legged Furrow Bee
These bees are both solitary and eusocial. They are adapted to living on their own or in colonies depending on their habitat.
The Orange-legged Furrow Bee (Halictus rubicundus) is among the species known for nesting in the ground. The preferred habitat is loose and sandy soil.
Nesting sites are often found next to stones. Research shows the burrows are located next to rocks as rocks retain heat and release heat during the night which bees like.
When living in colonies the species is known for having up to a few hundred individuals. It’s believed a colony is larger when there’s a higher percentage of males. The balance between both social and solitary bees in the same species makes the Orange-legged Furrow Bee one of the most studied bee species of the Halictus genus.