10 Types of Bees in Alabama

types of bees in alabama
Photo by Lidia Stawinska on Unsplash

Alabama is home to many types of bees, with over 400 species found throughout the state.

A wide variety of bee species inhabit the region, from bumblebees and carpenter bees to honeybees and sweat bees.

We will discover the most common bees found in Alabama and explore their various behaviors and characteristics. 

We will also provide an overview of the types of bees that call Alabama home and why they are so important to the local ecosystem.

By the end of this post, you’ll better understand the types of bees in Alabama and how they contribute to the state’s biodiversity.

1. Leafcutting Bee

Leafcutting Bees
by USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Program is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

One of the lesser-known types of bees in Alabama is the leafcutting bee.

These bees are solitary creatures who get their name from their unique way of creating nests.

Instead of burrowing into the ground like many other bees, leafcutting bees create nests by cutting small pieces of leaves and using them to construct small, cylindrical homes.

Leafcutting bees are smaller than honey bees, typically brown or black.

They are known for their exceptional pollination skills and are often used in agriculture to pollinate crops like alfalfa, carrots, and onions.

Despite their impressive abilities, leafcutting bees are not aggressive and rarely sting humans. 

If you see one of these bees flying around your garden, consider it a welcome addition to your local ecosystem.

These fascinating creatures are essential in the natural world and deserve our respect and admiration.

2. Squash Bee

Squash Bees - Types of Bees in Arkansas
by JK Nelson is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

One of the most common types of bees in Alabama is the squash bee. As their name suggests, these bees are specialists in pollinating squash plants.

They are medium-sized and have distinct stripes on their bodies. Squash bees are solitary bees, meaning they do not live in colonies like honey bees.

Instead, female squash bees build individual nests in the ground near squash plants.

In Alabama, squash bees are especially active when squash plants bloom in late spring and early summer.

They are excellent pollinators and play a vital role in the growth and development of squash crops. 

Without them, squash plants would not produce as many fruits as they do. If you have a garden with squash plants, you may be able to spot squash bees in action. 

They are generally not aggressive and are more interested in collecting nectar and pollen from the flowers.

However, they may defend themselves by stinging if you get too close to their nests.

So, keeping a safe distance and observing these fascinating bees from afar is best.

3. Honey Bee

Honey Bees

One of the most well-known and beloved types of bees in Alabama is the honey bee.

Known for their role in producing delicious honey, honey bees are also incredibly important pollinators.

These bees can be found in various habitats, including gardens, orchards, and fields.

Honey bees are social insects living in large colonies, including up to 60,000 individual bees.

They are identifiable by their fuzzy yellow and black stripes and are known for their characteristic buzzing sound.

Unfortunately, honey bees face numerous threats, including habitat loss, pesticides, and disease. 

As a result, many people are taking steps to protect these important pollinators, such as creating bee-friendly gardens and avoiding harmful chemicals.

If you want to support honey bees in Alabama, consider planting native flowering plants that provide food for these busy bees. 

You can also support local beekeepers by purchasing honey or other bee-related products.

With a little effort, we can all play a role in helping to protect and preserve the important role that honey bees play in our ecosystem.

4. Bumble Bee


Bumble bees are some of the most recognizable bees in Alabama.

They are large, furry, and often black and yellow, making them easy to spot as they buzz around gardens and fields.

Bumble bees are social creatures who often live in large colonies with queen and worker bees. 

Bumble bees are excellent pollinators known for their ability to buzz-pollinate, which means they vibrate their wings at just the right frequency to shake pollen loose from flowers.

They are especially important pollinators for crops such as tomatoes, peppers, and blueberries.

Despite their beneficial role in the ecosystem, bumble bee populations in Alabama and the United States have declined in recent years due to habitat loss, pesticide use, and disease. 

To help protect bumble bees, gardeners can plant various native flowers to provide them with food and habitat.

Avoiding pesticides and herbicides is crucial to protecting bumble bees and pollinators.

5. Carpenter Bee

Large Carpenter Bees - Types of Bees in Arkansas
by JKehoe_Photos is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Another common type of bee in Alabama is the Carpenter Bee. These bees are known for their shiny, black bodies and ability to bore into wood.

They are named for their nesting behavior, which involves excavating tunnels in wood structures such as fence posts, decks, and even the eaves of buildings. 

This behavior can lead to structural damage over time, making Carpenter Bees a potential pest for homeowners.

Carpenter Bees are relatively large, with females growing up to an inch long. They have a distinct, bumblebee-like appearance, with fuzzy black and yellow markings on their thorax. 

Unlike many other bees in Alabama, Carpenter Bees are solitary insects that do not live in hives or colonies.

While Carpenter Bees may be a nuisance for homeowners, they are important pollinators in their natural habitats.

They are attracted to various flowers, including wildflowers and garden plants such as tomatoes and cucumbers. 

Encouraging Carpenter Bees to nest in a designated area, such as a bee hotel, can be a great way to support their populations while minimizing damage to wooden structures.

Carpenter Bees are just one of the many types of bees in Alabama that contribute to the state’s rich biodiversity.

While they may require some management in certain situations, these bees are an important part of our ecosystem and should be respected and protected.

6. Mason Bee

Mason Bees
by USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Program is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

Mason bees, also known as blue orchard bees, are solitary bees common throughout Alabama.

They are called mason bees because they use mud to construct their nests.

These bees are known for their pollination efficiency and are considered one of the most effective pollinators of fruit trees, berries, and other plants. 

Mason bees are dark-colored, about the size of a honey bee, and have a hairy abdomen.

Unlike other bees, they do not have a queen or a hive, and each female mason bee constructs her own nest in a hollow stem or hole in wood. She lays eggs, stores pollen, and seals the entrance to the nest with mud. 

The larvae feed on the stored pollen and emerge as adult bees in the spring. Mason bees are gentle and rarely sting unless provoked. 

They are important to agriculture and home gardens, as they pollinate various crops and plants.

To attract mason bees to your garden, you can provide them with nesting tubes made of cardboard or bamboo.

7. Sweat Bee

Sweat Bees - Types of Bees in Arkansas
by siamesepuppy is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Sweat or halictid bees are small and metallic-looking insects commonly found throughout Alabama.

As their name suggests, these bees are attracted to the salt in human sweat, making them a familiar sight in parks, gardens, and other outdoor areas where people congregate.

Despite their preference for human sweat, sweat bees are important pollinators of various plants. 

They are particularly effective at pollinating plants near the ground, which larger bees may struggle to reach.

Sweat bees come in various colors, from metallic green to iridescent blue. While small, they can pack a powerful sting if provoked. 

However, sweat bee stings are generally less painful than other bees. One interesting fact about sweat bees is that they are often solitary insects, although some species are known to live in colonies.

These bees are also highly adaptable and can be found in various environments, from urban areas to wildlands.

Sweat bees are a fascinating and important insect group crucial in pollinating Alabama’s plants and ecosystems.

So next time you see a metallic-looking bee buzzing around, don’t be afraid – it might just be a sweat bee on the hunt for salt.

8. Polyester Bee

Polyester Bees
by tgpotterfield is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

While not as well-known as some other bees in Alabama, Polyester Bees are a fascinating species that deserves some attention.

These bees, also known as Colletidae, are easily recognized by their shiny, metallic-looking abdomens.

They typically have black and green or black and blue stripes, giving them a distinctive appearance. 

Polyester Bees are solitary insects that don’t live in hives like Honey Bees or Bumble Bees.

Instead, they build individual nests in the ground or crevices in wood or rock.

Female Polyester Bees gather pollen and nectar to feed their offspring, while males generally don’t collect food and instead focus on finding mates. 

One interesting thing about Polyester Bees is that they line their nests with a waterproof material they produce.

This material is made of a type of polyester unique to these bees, which is how they got their common name. This lining helps keep their larvae dry and protected from the elements. 

Despite their name, Polyester Bees are not harmful to humans and are beneficial pollinators.

They’re particularly good at pollinating flowers with long, tubular shapes, like trumpet creeper and cardinal flower.

However, because they’re solitary and don’t live in colonies, they don’t pollinate crops to the same extent as Honey Bees and Bumble Bees. 

Polyester Bees are one of the lesser-known types of bees in Alabama, but they’re still a fascinating and important part of the ecosystem.

Their shiny appearance and unique nesting habits make them a distinctive addition to any garden or natural area.

9. Cuckoo Bee

Cuckoo Bees
by John Tann is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Cuckoo bees are an interesting type of bee found in Alabama. These bees are also known as cleptoparasitic bees, which means they lay their eggs in the nests of other bees.

The cuckoo bee larvae then feed on the food and resources the host bee larvae provide.

There are several types of cuckoo bees in Alabama, including the Nomada bee and the Sphecodes bee.

Nomada bees are black and yellow and resemble wasps, while Sphecodes bees are smaller and have shiny, metallic bodies. 

While cuckoo bees may not be as well-known as honey bees or bumble bees, they play an important role in pollination.

By laying their eggs in the nests of other bees, they help to ensure the survival of different bee species and the plants that rely on them for pollination. 

10. Masked Bee

Masked Bees - Types of Bees in Arkansas
by Tindo2 – Tim Rudman is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Masked bees are small, solitary bees that are common in Alabama. These bees are known for their distinct, striped facial pattern, which gives them their name.

Masked bees are important pollinators of native plants, especially those in the sunflower family.

Alabama has several masked bee species, including Hylaeus communis and Hylaeus leptocephalus.

These bees can be found in various habitats, from forests and grasslands to urban areas. Masked bees are solitary, meaning they do not live in colonies like honey bees. 

Instead, each female bee creates a nest by burrowing into the ground or finding a hollow stem or another small crevice.

The female then provisions the nest with pollen and nectar, lays an egg, and seals the nest.

Despite their small size, masked bees play an important role in the ecosystem by pollinating plants and helping to maintain biodiversity.

To attract masked bees to your yard, you can plant native flowering plants, provide nesting habitats like hollow stems or bee hotels, and avoid using pesticides.


As you can see, many types of bees call Alabama home. From honey bees that help pollinate our crops to masked bees that are expertly disguised in their environment, each type of bee plays an important role in our ecosystem. 

We must continue to educate ourselves about these important pollinators and do our part to protect them and their habitats.

So next time you’re out in your garden or exploring the outdoors, take a moment to appreciate the busy bees hard at work around you.

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