What Are Blue Bees and Where Do You Find Them?
To spot a blue orchard bee, head to Florida.
For people who love bees, there are no better neighbors. I’ve seen people set up a bee watering station to keep the insects hydrated and happy. But even friends of the bees might be surprised to know that there are more than 20,000 kinds in the world, with 4,000 of them native to the U.S.
That’s a lot of bees, so we shouldn’t be surprised that there really are blue bees out there. It might seem like a photoshopped picture that went viral. But insects like blue orchard bees are a real thing, and some blue bees are even native to North America.
Blue Orchard Bees
As you can tell from their name, blue orchard bees like to hang around fruit trees. Unlike their yellow, fuzzy brethren, these insects are a metallic blue, though the color may differ slightly between males and females. They’re more efficient at pollination than regular honeybees, says the U.S. Forest Service, especially with certain fruit trees.
The way these types of bees work differs as well. Honeybees — those striped yellow and brown pollinators we’re all familiar with — work as a hive. Blue orchard bees, or osmia lignaria, tend to work alone but enjoy the company of other bees.
They’re native to the U.S. and Canada, but may not be found in every state. These guys need lower foraging temperatures, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The University of Florida says they’re found in Florida and parts of the southeastern Gulf Coast.
Blue Calamintha Bees
Blue calamintha bees are named for their food source: flowers of Ashe’s calamint.
This metallic navy insect is known for its unique way of collecting pollen, which involves bobbing its head up and down. That causes the pollen to be released onto facial hairs that collect it. This method, noted by the University of Florida, has never been seen in any other insect.
In 2020, these bees, thought to be extinct, made headlines when they were rediscovered in Florida. According to CNN, these bees hadn’t been seen in four years. Originally noticed near Central Florida’s Lake Wiles Ridge, they’ve now been spotted in seven new areas. Like the blue orchard bees, these bees, also known as osmia calaminthae, are solitary critters.
Blue Carpenter Bees
Blue carpenter bees make their homes in the wood of trees rather than in hives. The bright cerulean critters make honey like other bees. But unlike regular honey, theirs has a consistency similar to peanut butter or cookie dough.
You can find these pretty blue bees throughout Southeast Asia, India and Southern China, according to Australian Geographic. Like the other blue bees, xylocopa caerulea are solitary creatures that prefer their own company.