Bee ID - black honeybee?

alabamanicole(7b)July 28, 2010

I let my basil go to flower in the garden, and yesterday I saw three bees on it in the midafternoon which were the exact size and shape of honeybees, but they were black -- I think almost solid black. I didn't get a really close look because they were totally non-aggressive and after I was nearby for too long, they left.

They were darker than a Carniolan and larger than mason bees. They also appeared to be faster flyers than honeybees, but not dramatically so. I assume they are a social bee since there were 3 in one place at once.

Are there extremely dark honeybees which have naturalized in the southeast? I very much doubt I have any beekeepers nearby since I am mostly surrounded by woods.

My only real desire for an ID is because my new home has a dearth of bee forage, which I am attempting to correct. I have seen quite a few species of tiny native bees plus bumblebees and carpenters bees, but overall very, very few bees and no honeybees. Such a docile pollinator is definitely welcome and I want to try and be sure that I include forage for them.

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On the hunch that they might be back at the same time this afternoon, I took my camera out to the garden. Just one returned, but I got some decent photos. After looking at these, maybe it is some kind of mason bee, but even in bright sunlight I saw no hint of metallic shine.

Note yellow dot on forehead:

Fuzzy white legs:

Fuzzy body with a hit of stripes on the tail:

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 5:37PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

This is not a honey bee, you have some kind of native bee.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 12:25AM
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Thanks for the feedback. I tried What's That Bug and BugGuide for a match, but no luck.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 7:52AM
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It looks like a Carpenter Bee. Try googling it and you will find some images.

We have them in our garden, too. I'm in Pueblo, Colorado.

Theoretically, the make little holes in wood and live there, but I haven't seen any evidence of that. Maybe they go to the neighbor's house.

Nice pictures.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 7:45AM
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The yellow forehead dot sure looks like a carpenter bee, but we have carpenter bees here and they all have yellow fuzz on the top and no fuzz on the rear. (Forgive my lack of proper terminology.)

They are also MUCH larger than these little guys.

I have seen carpenter bees make some serious holes in wood, but we have enough woodlands around that if you spray a repellant in the spring they mostly leave the houses alone.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 10:15AM
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Oh my!
I got on here for the same situation... black bees on the basil... I live in a very new subdivision and was excited to see bees here... almost as excited as I was to find black swallowtail cats on my parsley and dill.
But... carpenter bees!
I wonder where they are keeping house?
Not too many trees around here yet.
I was hoping they'd be Mason Bees... but at least I have some sign of life out there!
So there is hope...

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 1:41PM
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