Sweat bee, that is. As a kid that’s what we called them, for their habit of landing on a sweaty arm to get salt. We thought they would sting us, and the females can if riled up. Little did I know they were just one of 4000 species of bees native to North America. But Augochlora pura, the Pure Green Sweat Bee, has to be one of the loveliest of the bunch – and it’s common in this forest.
A. pura is a woodland dweller and makes its nests in rotten logs, of which this forest has an abundance. I was lucky enough to come across a busy group of females working on their nests in this rotten log by the trail (near post #18 if you want to have a look).
I first noticed them hovering around the log, sometimes landing to investigate various crevices. A few openings had excavated wood debris at the surface, and as I watched quietly, female bees began to enter and exit.
The amazing golden green iridescence caught my eye, and I remembered seeing them nectaring at flowers.
As it turns out, they were mostly collecting pollen as food for the next generation. Mixed with saliva, the pollen is kneaded by female bees into tiny golden “bee loaves”. The nest is then lined with them, as visible in the image below.
The Pure green augochlora is just one of many native bees – you may see other species in your yard, particularly those that nest in the ground. (See my post “Leave some naked places” https://wordpress.com/post/oneforestfragment.com/7088)
But A. pura mostly hangs out in woodlands, so spring ephemeral wildflowers and other flowering plants are an important source of nectar and pollen. Reviving this forest’s herbaceous layer is a rewarding project since each year we see an increase in the diversity and abundance of small flowering things. It’s quite interesting to stand in a sunny area near A. pura’s nesting log, and count the number of different flowering plants – it looks the bees have plenty to choose from.