|March Bee of the Month - Eucera spp.
The bee season is officially in full swing! Our winter rains have brought green hillsides back to our landscape and early spring natives are starting to bloom. The orchards of California have burst into flower and with it will come some of the early spring long-horned bees (Eucera spp.). California is home to 23 species of spring long-horned bees and while we rarely encounter them in our urban surveys, they are common visitors to our Brentwood farm sites. Males of these bees have extremely long, dark antennae, similar to Melissodes and Svastra, but these bees are only active in the spring, from March until May.
These solitary females construct their nests in the ground in bare patches of soil. Females are medium-sized and some species have a white and black striped abdomen. One difference between females of Eucera and their summer counterparts, is that Eucera females do not have branched scopal hairs. Scopa are the hairs that bees collect and store their pollen on (* you’d need a microscope to see this!). Males tend to be more slender than the females and they have yellow markings on the lower parts of their faces. Some of their favorite plants to visit include manzanita’s (Arctostaphylos spp.), salvia’s (Salvia spp.), and lupine’s (Lupinus spp.). Keep your eyes open for these spring beauties!