by Beth Weiler

This week’s featured bug is a Mining bee (genus Andrena)! These bees get their name from their nesting habit, which is to “mine” and create their nests in bare ground.

mining beeAll bees in this genus are solitary ground-nesters. Female Mining bees excavate a small burrow in the ground, then divide it into multiple cells; she will lay one egg in each cell. The female then collects pollen throughout the day and turns it into “bee bread”: firm, round little loaves of pollen, which she leaves in each cell for the developing baby bee to eat.

Pictured is Andrena vicina, the Neighborly Mining bee. It is covered in the bright orange pollen of Prairie alumroot (Heuchera richardsonii), which is currently blooming in the prairie of the Great Lakes Garden at Matthaei. The bee bread that this individual is making for her offspring will probably be bright orange and quite delicious!