Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sweat bee

Have you ever heard of sweat bees? This is the common name for any species of the bee family Halictidae and their name comes from the fact that they are attracted to the salt in human sweat. Sweat bees can be smaller than 4 mm in length and often have metallic markings. Believe it or not but there are about 2,000 species of sweat bees known to science and over 500 of them live in North America.

Back in 2009 a doctoral student at York University discovered a new species in downtown Toronto on his way to the lab. The little animal now called Lasioglossum ephialtum is shown in today’s image. These sweat bees are common visitors to a wide range of plants, including fruit and vegetable flowers in our gardens. 

This species and all other bees together are responsible for pollinating many wildflowers and most agricultural crops. As much as one of every three bites of food that we eat depends on the pollination services of bees.

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