A wide variety of bee types can be found in Arizona, including five native bee species and several that are invasive or non-native to the state.
While not all bees are created equal, they all have their place in the ecosystems of Arizona, from pollinating crops and plants to serving as food sources for predators like birds and reptiles.
Here’s an overview of some of the most common types of bees in Arizona, whether working or playing outside in one of the state’s many beautiful parks and preserves or just having an afternoon picnic with your family.
1. Peridot Sweat Bee
The Peridot Sweat Bee is a type of bee that lives in the deserts of Arizona. It’s also called the Dune Sweat Bee, the Desert Sweat Bee, or the Sand Sweat Bee.
They live in sandy deserts and feed on sweat from humans and other animals. This can be found by digging under rocks or peeling bark off trees.
For these different types of bees in Arizona to reproduce, they need an average temperature of over 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) for three weeks straight during mid-summer. If these conditions are not met, then their population will decline.
Some types of Peridot Sweat Bees have been spotted in coastal California, so they may be migratory. But currently, there needs to be more evidence to confirm this.
2. California Digger-Cuckoo Bee
The California Digger-Cuckoo Bee is a solitary bee that nests in the ground. It is around 1.5 inches long and has a black abdomen with bright yellow stripes on its thorax.
This type of bee can be found across the southwestern United States and parts of Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America.
The California Digger-Cuckoo Bee feeds on nectar from flowers like the golden yarrow or red clover. It will also eat pollen from plants like aster or chamomile.
These types of bees in Arizona build their nest by digging into soft soil or sand with their forelegs.
A chamber is created inside which the female lays her eggs. She then seals up the entrance before moving on to another one.
Unlike other bee species, the California Digger-Cuckoo Bee does not have pollen baskets on their hind legs.
Instead, they carry it between their mandibles. They do this because they don’t create separate chambers for each egg, and there may be more than one egg in each room at any time.
3. Western Honey Bee
They are located across the deserts, from California to Texas, and live in large colonies with their queen.
They rely on humans for food and habitat, so their population can be managed through manufactured structures like hives or other pollination projects.
However, the Western Honey Bee is not native to this region, so they are at risk from various diseases, parasites, predators, or environmental changes that might threaten its population. Population growth.
Predators such as wasps and hornets could harm Western Honey Bees but are generally non-threatening because of the strength of a colony.
Parasites such as small hive beetles may also threaten honeybees by living in their homes. The disease is one major threat to these insects, mainly if it spreads quickly throughout an area; however, parasites also carry disease, which may lead to an infestation of insects dying out before they can reproduce.
4. Oblique Longhorn
The Oblique Longhorn is a type of bee found in the desert Southwest, mainly in Arizona, New Mexico, and west Texas.
They have a diagonal pattern on their abdomen, which makes identification easy. The most distinctive feature of this bee is its long antennae which are at least 1 inch long.
Other types of bees in Arizona are honeybees, bumblebees, mining bees, and sweat bees. Honeybees are the most commonly seen bee with their black-and-yellow stripes.
Bumblebees also have bars, but they are black-and-white or yellow-and-black bands instead of just black lines like honeybees.
Mining bees are identified by their blue-green thorax (the middle part) and narrow face. Sweat bees can be identified by their rounded head and fuzzy body because they don’t have pollen-collecting hair like other bees.
All these native species can be found in Arizona, but only one type will usually inhabit any given area.
5. Western Carpenter
The Western Carpenter bee is one of the most common types of bee in Arizona. You can usually see these types of bees near citrus trees, juniper bushes, cottonwood trees, and other plants that produce a lot of nectar. They are brown with a black face, abdomen, and wings.
Female western carpenter bees are very aggressive. They are excellent pollinators since they visit flowers three to four times longer than most other bees.
These types of bees in Arizona nest in wood softened by termites or fungi.
They do not cause damage when they build nests. Females are more significant than males, which have smaller bodies and eyes. Male bees typically spend time outside of their nest.
However, female bees are much more territorial and stay close to the nesting area. Unlike bumblebees, these types of bees do not communicate with sounds but via pheromones that come from their mandibular gland (a gland found in arthropods).
Male and female honeybees live together inside a colony, but solitary females like the Western Carpenter Bee typically live alone or travel alone in the food search.
6. Urbane Digger Bee
The Urbane Digger Bee is a solitary bee that does not produce honey. It preys on other insects, especially caterpillars, and flies around with a jerky motion. It is black with orange/reddish hairs on its head, thorax, and abdomen.
This bee can be found from March through October near watercourses or streams but only occasionally in desert areas.
Other types of bees in Arizona include Leafcutter Bees, which are small, black, and yellow-striped. They use their mandibles to cut pieces of leaves and then carry these back to their nest as a building material for their brood cells.
You will typically find these types of bees nesting under rocks or dead wood at the base of trees.
There are also Carpenter Bees, who bore into the wood with their mandibles and then use it as a food source for larvae.
7. Parola Long-Horned Bee
The Parosela Long-Horned Bee is most common, can be found all over Arizona, and has a unique pollination strategy.
Unlike other bees that forage for pollen from only one plant species at a time, the Parosela Long-Horned Bee will move from plant to plant, collecting pollen from various plants.
The bee’s long tongue is perfect for reaching down deep into the flowers of tall flowers such as cactus blossoms.
They are also excellent pollinators for many fruit trees, such as avocados and oranges. As with many types of bees in Arizona, the larvae live inside their nest made by chewing wood pulp on twigs.
The nest is then sealed with droplets of wax or resin, which they produce. These nests hang from plants or tree limbs and appear like clusters of grapes or miniature bird nests.
8. Ligated Furrow Bee
The Ligated Furrow Bee is a solitary bee found throughout the southwest United States. This bee nests underground, usually in abandoned rodent burrows or cavities. They do not defend their nests from intruders, but they can be dangerous if you get too close!
There are many other types of bees in Arizona, but this is one that you can spot with relative ease. If you have a sizeable ground-level brush area, it might also have plenty of Ligated Furrow Bees.
The best time to see them is early morning when they come out foraging for nectar and pollen to make honey.
These little insects will gather around flowers and feed until the sun gets too hot, then go back inside to escape the heat of the day.
Some types of these types of bees in Arizona will even store pollen on their legs while they are outside.
When they return to their nest later, the pollen will fertilize eggs laid by the female worker. It’s always important to watch for different types of bees because each class provides a valuable service to our environment.
9. Honey-Tailed Striped Sweat Bee
Some native bee species you may see near your home are the Honey-Tailed Striped Sweat Bee, the Western Bumblebee, or the Western Honeybee.
These bees are all pollinators and can be found throughout most areas of the state. You can tell which type of bee you have by looking at its body size, shape, behavior, and color patterns.
The Honey-Tailed Striped Sweat Bee is typically small and slender with a yellowish/orange head, while the Western Bumblebee is more prominent with a dark brown head.
These different types of bees in Arizona have no stripes but a shiny black and yellow abdomen with white hair covering their whole body. If you spot any bee near your home, keep an eye on it, as they could nest there!
Bees will use their type of materials to construct a nest and so it is essential to keep everything from where you found it.
In some cases, when bees nest close to humans, like in trees close to homes, some people might worry about whether or not these types of bees in Arizona sting.
Don’t worry because these three types of bees mentioned here do not sting!
10. Valley Carpenter Bee
The Valley Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa tranquebarorum) is one of Arizona’s most common bees. This solitary bee is active from March through October but builds its nest only during this period.
The nest is made of chewed wood, which can be found beneath eaves or on window frames.
In addition to eating pollen, these types of bees in Arizona also eat honeydew which they feed on from aphids and other insects that suck sap from plants.
They will also use their mouthparts to chew holes into fruit such as peaches, apples, and pears to get at the fruit’s juice.
The Pileated Woodpecker often removes Valley Carpenter Bee nests when it searches for insect larvae in the wood; however, some are left undisturbed because their sting isn’t powerful enough to deter them.
These carpenter bees also like nesting in cacti and palm trees, adding to the variety of native types of bees in Arizona.
The Valley Carpenter Bee belongs to a family of giant-sized solitary ground-nesting bees known for nesting under house eaves and bridges, crevices in logs and stumps, abandoned rodent burrows, and softwood structures.
This family has four genera: Xylocopoidea, Ceratinae, Heteroxylines, and Coelioxys.
11. Sonoran Bumble Bee
The Sonoran Bumble Bee is a small bee that lives in the southwestern United States. Entomologists first identified it in 1907, but it wasn’t until 1978 that it was officially named the Sonoran Bumble Bee.
This bee has an orange head, black body, yellow spots on its abdomen, and two yellow stripes on its thorax.
The Sonoran Bumble Bee can be found anywhere from sea level up to 10,000 feet above sea level. They prefer desert scrubland habitats with lots of sun exposure.
These types of bees in Arizona are essential because they pollinate plants in deserts and mountain areas.
They are also used commercially as pollinators for crops such as blueberries, oranges, apples, strawberries, cherries, carrots, and other vegetables.
12. Hunt’s Bumble Bee
If you’re looking for a bumble bee, you’ll want to head north. Hunt’s Bumble Bee is the only type of bumble bee that can be found in Northern Arizona.
It’s also the most significant type of bumble bee, with a buzzing sound that’s louder than most other varieties.
The more common types of bees in Arizona are Desert Bumble Bees, which have a high-pitched buzz.
These tiny creatures live along the washes and valleys surrounding Phoenix, Tucson, and Yuma. They will often be seen hovering near prickly pear cacti to extract nectar from their flowers.
In terms of how many types of bees there are in Arizona, this one has three subtypes: Western Bumble Bee, Apache Bumble Bee, and Sonoran Desert Bumble Bee.
The Western variety lives primarily around Flagstaff, Ash Fork, and Sedona; Apache nests near Show Low and Payson, while the Sonoran Desert dwells around Yuma and Tucson.
13. Ligated Furrow Bee
A Ligated Furrow Bee is a type of bee with medium-sized, black-tipped, yellow hairs on its abdomen. The female Furrow Bee is distinguished from other types because the males have a large yellow spot behind their heads.
These types of bees can be found in the southwestern region of the United States, specifically Arizona.
They are essential pollinators for plants such as cotton, and many beans, including fava beans, alfalfa, and okra.
Furrow Bees nest underground and often reuse abandoned rodent burrows or other cavities, such as tree holes, for nesting purposes.
Ligated Furrow Bees are beneficial for agriculture because they pollinate plants essential for livestock feed.
In some regions, these bees also act as scavengers by consuming carrion. However, this species is under threat due to habitat loss and climate change.
Some people believe there may need to be more water available for Ligated Furrow Bees to survive and produce offspring because precipitation has been at less than normal levels for the past decade.
14. California Digger Bee
The Hairy-footed Flower Bee can be found all over Arizona, including around Phoenix. It’s about twice as big as a honeybee, so it’s easier to spot. It prefers open fields and meadows with lots of flowers.
They are black and hairy and have white stripes on their abdomen. These guys have pollen baskets on their legs which they use to gather nectar from the flowers they visit.
Other types of bees in Arizona can be seen at Desert Botanical Garden, too!
More significant than most other types of bees, the cuckoo is easily spotted by its long, curved antennae and hairy body.
When not pollinating plants for food, these types of bees in Arizona make nests in various places – under rocks or leaves or even inside holes in trees.
And don’t forget about native carpenter bees! You’ll often see them hovering over wood structures such as fences or decks, looking for an opening to drill through to make a nest.
15. Spotted Woolcarder
There are many types of bees in Arizona, including the Spotted Woolcarder. The Woolcarder is a bumblebee that lives in warm climates like those found along the southern border. The Woolcarder is a generalist pollinator, meaning it can pollinate many plants.
They are territorial and will defend their territory when faced with competition. They are known for their fast flight speed, allowing them to fly up to four miles per hour!
One reason they have this ability is that they have more giant hind legs than front ones, which allow for powerful flight strokes.
However, they may be less efficient at gathering pollen on flowers due to their short snout (or nose). The Spotted Woolcarder feeds on pollen from plants like goldenrod and coneflower.
There are a variety of types of bees in Arizona. The most common type is the European Honeybee, which is found mainly on farms. Other types include:
- The carpenter bee is located chiefly around houses.
- The leafcutter bee can be found around trees or shrubs.
- The bumblebee can be seen near flowers or other plants.
Some other types that can be found here include sweat bees, mining bees, and cuckoo wasps. The best place to look for these different types of bees is outside your home!
You can also see them at farmers’ markets, flower gardens, parks, and friends’ houses.
You may have heard stories about honeybees going extinct because they pollinate our crops- fortunately, this isn’t true: there are plenty of honeybees in Arizona!