Beekeepers describe their honey bees as "my girls" or "my beautiful girls."
It's a term of endearment.
Now take the green metallic sweat bee, Agapostemon texanus. If honey bees are beautiful (and they are) then these bees are spectacular.
Sometimes called ultra green sweat bees, the females are metallic green from head to thorax to abdomen. The males, however, are metallic green from head to thorax. Their abdomens are striped.
This is one of the bees that native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, studies. When he monitors the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the half-acre bee friendly garden next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis, he finds these periodically.
The Agapostemon are members of the Halictinae family, described in the book, Bees of the World, by Christopher O'Toole and Christopher Raw, as a world-wide group of bees. They are "often called sweat bees because in hot weather they are attracted to human perspiration, which they lap up, probably for the salt it contains," they write.
Some of the family's many genera, including Agapostemon, are restricted to the New World. Halictus and Lasioglossum "are common to the Old and New Worlds," according to O'Toole and Raw.
We captured these images below at the Mostly Natives Nursery in Tomales, Marin County.
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Male sweat bee, Agapostemon texanus, on purple coneflower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Note the metallic green head and thorax of a male sweat bee, Agapostemon texanus. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Spotted cucumber beetle (a pest) and male sweat bee, Agapostemon texanus, sharing a purple coneflower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)