Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Giant Resin Bee

While in West Virginia recently, I was photographing Pipevine Swallowtails nectaring on Common Milkweed plants, Asclepias syriaca, when this robust bee flew in. Not recalling having seen such a thing before, I did my best to snap some photos as it busily rushed about consuming nectar.

I was just going through some unidentified stuff in photos, and pulled out an insect guide to try and pin a name on this one. Didn't take long: Giant Resin Bee, Megachile sculpturalis. Ironically, Marty Lesher had sent along a photo and description of this bee from Ohio a few days prior, and I didn't know what it was at that time.

Giant Resin Bees are native to Asia, and were first detected in the U.S. in North Carolina in 1994. It is thought that they likely came over as an incidental on a ship. Since that time, they've spread rapidly, turning up as far north as Ontario, Canada, and west to Kansas.

The females often utilize Carpenter Bee holes for nests, and these holes are often drilled into decks and the wood siding of houses and other structures. So, it's in these sort of places that people usually notice the resin bees. Although, the one in the photos above was photographed in a remote part of the West Virginia mountains, not very near any human inhabitations or buildings.

I have no idea as to how abundant these bees have become, but I'm not noticing them if they are around. So far, they don't seem to be causing any demonstrable damage to native insects. Anyway, if you've seen these odd bees around, I'd be curious to know about it.


Anonymous said...

My grad student collected one visiting purple loosestrife in the Cuyahoga Valley in about 2005. At the time I think it was the only record for the state.
Randy Mitchell, University of Akron

Anonymous said...

There's one collecting mud from my garden. I finally photographed and identified it today. Which brought me to your page. I'm in Lakewood, Ohio.