Identify Types of Bees: The Peponapis Squash Bee

Foraging habits differentiate the Peponapis bee, commonly referred to as a “Squash Bee,” from other types of bees. Squash Bees focus their pollination and feeding habits almost entirely on members of the squash family.
By The Xerces Society
November 7, 2013

Bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, flies and some beetles pollinate more than 70 percent of flowering plants, but North America's native pollinators face multiple threats to their health and habitat. In "Attracting Native Pollinators," the Xerces Society offers a complete action plan for protecting these industrious animals by providing flowering habitat and nesting sites while also providing specifics for identifying types of bees and other pollinating insects.
Cover Courtesy Storey Publishing
Slideshow


Content Tools

Related Content

Learning to Install a Package of Bees

We installed two packages of bees, one into a top bar hive and the other into a Warre hive. One colo...

Summer Squash Time of Year

Feeling overwhelmed with summer squash? Have you given it away, grilled it, fried it and baked it t...

Corporate Social Responsibility and Beekeeping

Beekeeping can bring many benefits other than a great hobby and honey production. Follow Iain as he ...

NativeEnergy Celebrates 10 Years of Innovation(2)

NativeEnergy, an innovator in the United States carbon market, today launched its year-long 10-Year ...

The Xerces Society, a nonprofit conservation organization, is a leader in the effort to conserve North America's native pollinators. Founded in 1971, the society protects insects and other invertebrates through advocacy, education, policy development and applied research projects aimed at protecting and managing critical habitat. Attracting Native Pollinators (Storey Publishing, 2011), by The Xerces Society, is a complete action plan and information guide for protecting bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, flies and some beetles by providing flowering habitat and nesting sites.The following excerpt is from Part 3: Bees of North America.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Attracting Native Pollinators

Peponapis: Squash Bees

(pep-on-AY-pus)

FAMILY: Apidae

SUBFAMILY: Apinae

These bees get their common name from their very close association with squash flowers. Peponapis is a small genus of 13 species limited to the Americas. They are most abundant and diverse in the deserts of Mexico and the southwestern United States, but one species, Peponapis pruinosa, is transcontinental and has spread as far north as Canada.

Identification

Fairly robust, hairy, moderate-sized bees, 0.4 to 0.6 inches (10–15 mm) long. Squash bees typically are brown with sparse bands of brown hair on their abdomens. The protruding lower face of many species is distinctive and gives the appearance of a big nose. Males have a small yellow patch on their faces.

Similar Types of Bees

Similar to the closely related genera Melissodes and Svastra, but Peponapis males have shorter antennae and a big “nose,” and both males and females are typically seen around squash flowers.

Foraging

All specialize in gathering nectar and pollen from flowers of squash plants (Cucurbita), including pumpkins, watermelons, squashes, and gourds. Females provide their young with nectar and pollen strictly from squash. Peponapis forage most actively early in the morning (beginning half an hour or more before sunrise!) when the squash flowers open. Squash flowers have large pollen grains and consequently, squash bees have sparse hairs in their scopae to handle them. The close relationship with squash is reflected in other aspects of Peponapis behavior: mating occurs inside squash flowers, and males take shelter overnight in them. You can often find Peponapis bees in closed squash flowers by gently squeezing the flower.

Nests

Peponapis pruinosa nests in the ground, usually in large aggregations. Nests may be more than 2 feet deep and are generally dug in areas with thin or patchy vegetation. Often, these types of bees nest under the leaves at the base of the host plant, even in agricultural fields.

Conservation Concerns

None known.

Did You Know?

Since Peponapis bees depend on pollen from Cucurbita, these types of bees must have been limited historically to the area within the natural range of squash and pumpkins: the desert Southwest and Central America. One species, P. pruinosa, has experienced a dramatic range expansion as humans have planted pumpkin and squash crops across the country. It may now be found in the eastern states from Georgia to Maine and northward to Ontario, and in the western states as far north as Oregon and Idaho.

To learn more about Squash bees and other types of native pollinators, read How to Attract Native Bees to Your Organic Garden.


"Bee" an expert! Identify more types of bees from Attracting Native Pollinators

The Andrena Mining Bee
The Bombus Bumble Bee
The Osmia Mason Bee


Regional Plant Lists for Native Pollinator Gardens

The following charts list plant species that are native to their respective regions and commercially available from nurseries, specialty seed producers, and local native plant societies. The plants listed here tolerate a wide range of soil and light conditions. They are listed by season, to make it easier to design a garden that provides forage in spring, summer, and fall. If particular species are difficult to find in your area, look for closely related ones.

Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada
Southeastern United States
Midwestern United States
Great Plains and Prairie Provinces
U.S. and Canadian Rocky Mountain Region
California and the Southwest
Pacific Northwest and British Columbia
Lower-Cost Ornamentals for Many Regions


This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting North America's Bees and Butterflies by The Xerces Society, published by Storey Publishing, 2011. Buy this book from our store: Attracting Native Pollinators.


Previous | 1 | 2 | Next






Post a comment below.

 








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.