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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Though the Northeast is snowbound and the weather here is still bouncing from hot to cold, some wildlife is starting to get spring fever.

Something I noticed for the first time last weekend: miner bees!

Spending most of their lives under the soil, miner bees emerge en mass in early spring to mate.

The stingless males buzz in 6 inch high air space, searching for females. Multiple males tend to find a single female at the same time, forming a “breeding ball” as they all try to mate. Their desperation is predestined: there are usually about 2 males for every female in a population.

After mating once, females dig a burrow, visible from the surface as a short, conical mound. They construct a small cell, then fill it with pollen, nectar, and secretions from a structure called a “Dufour’s gland”, lay their eggs, and seal it with clay.

Though they tend to dig burrows in congregations, miner bees are solitary and only directly interact to breed.

The young spend the rest of the year living off of their mother’s preparations, emerging the next Spring to start the cycle again.

Note: Image represents Anthophora plumipes a close relative to Anthophora abrupta or "Miner Bees"

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