Small Mining Bee


The Small Mining Bee (Perdita rhois) is common in the western United States and more densely concentrated in the Southwest and northwestern Baja California, Mexico. It is a small black bee with yellow markings. It forages on pollen from many different plant species like California Buckwheat, Laurel Sumac, and Toyon, three plants from different plant families. This is unusual because most other Small Mining Bee species are extremely picky and only forage on pollen from a handful of plant species.

It is a solitary ground nester and is most common from summer to fall. A distinguishing feature of this bee is that females do not line their brood cells but rather use a glandular secretion to coat the ball of pollen collected from flowers. When the larva hatches, it will chew through the secretion to dine on the pollen ball.

Did you know? Worldwide, 629 species of Small Mining Bees in the genus Perdita have been identified; 253 of these species can be found in California.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Ron Hemberger