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Manitoba Museum

Bees, Wasps, and Ants (Hymenoptera)

Sweat Bees, Halictid Bees and other Bees


This common group of short-tongued bees includes Small Miner Bees, Green Metallic Bees, Halictid Bees, Alkali Bees, Cuckoo Halictid Bees, and Sweat Bees. Most are important pollinators, visiting a wide variety of flowers and feeding on nectar and pollen. Some live communally or socially, while others are solitary or parasitic on the brood cells of other Halictid Bees. Sweat Bees are attracted to human sweat and may land on a person to lick them.

Representative Genera and Species:

Agapostemon texanus, Augochloropsis, Lasioglossum, Halictus, Sphecodes

Pollinator Life Cycle:

Nests of most species are built as a series of brood cells, which are filled with pollen. Females mate and then lay their eggs in these cells. When they hatch, larvae eat the pollen that has been provided for them. Other species are parasitic, and lay their eggs in the nests of other bees. Adults visit a large variety of flowers, feeding on nectar and pollen.

Rarity Status:

None of the Sweat Bees are legally protected in Canada. The status of Canadian species has not yet been assessed.

Physical Appearance:

These are small to medium sized bees, 4-12 mm long, with short antennae and many bristles. Their coloration varies: some are black or brownish, while others are metallic green. Some may have abdominal stripes and yellow legs, or yellow, red, or bluish highlights. Males tend to have yellow faces. Females have pollen baskets on their hind legs.

Pollinator Habitat:

Sweat Bees build solitary nests, usually located in the soil. They prefer clay or sandy soil with a thin organic layer, and sometimes the sandy banks of streams.

Canadian Distribution:

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland/Labrador
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nova Scotia
  • Nunavut
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon

Prairie Types:

  • Fescue Prairie
  • Mixed Grass Prairie
  • Tall Grass Prairie
Sweat Bees, Halictid Bees and other Bees