15 Types of Bees in Colorado

Types of Bees in Colorado
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Although honey bees aren’t’ native to Colorado, there are many other types of bees in the state, including some that are endangered or otherwise at risk of disappearing forever.

To help you identify these wild bees and protect them as much as possible, here’s a list of 15 types of bees in Colorado and how to identify them.

1. Bumblebees

Bumble bees are one of the most common types of bees in Colorado. They are furry, fat, and have black bodies with broad yellow stripes on their abdomen.

These bees have very short tongues, which they use to collect nectar from flowers. 

The bumblebee is also called a Bombus Terrestris because it is a ground-nesting bee that hibernates during winter. The next type of bee commonly found in Colorado is the honey bee or Apis mellifera. 

These types of bees are pollinators that live both in colonies and solitary lives. The honey bee has a black body with brown or yellow stripes on its abdomen; it also has curved antennae at the top of its head, making it look like a bear!

2. European (Western) Honey Bees

Honey Bees are among the most common types of bees in Colorado. Their black and yellow stripes can identify them.

These bees live in hives or colonies with a single queen bee. European (Western) Honey Bees generally only sting humans if they feel threatened since they don’t produce honey. 

One type of European (Western) Honey Bee is the Apis Mellifera Linnaeus, also known as the Western Hive Bee or Africanized Western Hive Bee.

The Apis Mellifera Linnaeus has brown hairs that cover its body. It lives in colonies made up of about 60,000-80,000 bees with a single queen bee. 

It can be distinguished from other European (Western) Honey Bees because it has less hair on its abdomen than different types.

The Apis Mellifera Linnaeus was brought over to North America by accident when an African Queen Bee escaped from an experiment that was being done on her species.

3. Large Carpenter Bees

Giant Carpenter Bees are one of the most common types of bees in Colorado. They are also known as carpenter bees. Carpenter bees get their name because they bore into wood to create nests for their larvae. 

These bees use the materials from the wood to make a type of cell that will house their eggs and feed for up to two years.

Carpenter bee larvae eat about 1/4 inch of wood each day before pupating, then emerging as adults. Carpenter bees are pollinators, so they benefit flowers by allowing them to produce fruit. 

Carpenter bees usually fly from early spring until October. Carpenter bee stings are mild compared to other bee stings because giant carpenter bees use a type of venom that is milder than most bee species.

4. Small Carpenter Bees

Small Carpenter Bees are among the more common types of bees in Colorado. The female is black with a broad yellow band across her abdomen, while the male is all black.

These bees nest alone or in small groups in holes; they cut into the wood with their large jaws. They chew a new spot every year, so don’t be alarmed if you see their nests around your property!

These types of bees can sting but rarely do because they have such long straw-like tongues that collect nectar from flowers. If you notice one on your arm, brush it away gently. 

5. Long-Horned Bees

Long-Horned Bees are one of the most common types of bees in Colorado. They are about 1⁄2 inch long, have a yellow-orange body with a black head, and have brown or red stripes on their abdomen.

These bees have a range from eastern to western North America. 

There are two species: the Common Eastern Long-Horn (Bombus impatiens) and the Common Western Long-Horn (Bombus occidentalis).

The latter is more prominent than its eastern counterpart, has more hair on its abdomen, and ranges further north into Canada than the Common Eastern Long-Horn.

Like all other types of bees, they collect nectar as food for themselves or their larvae by using their long tongues to suck it out of flowers.

6. Sweat Bees

Sweat bees are small, dark-colored bees found throughout North America. The sweat bee is most commonly black with yellow stripes on its abdomen.

It can also be identified by a narrow waist which separates the thorax from the stomach.

Sweat bees are attracted to human perspiration because they feed on the protein present in sweat. They are not aggressive but will sting if they feel threatened or if their nest is disturbed.

If you are allergic, make sure you take precautions when encountering one of these little critters because they often sting more than once while feeding.

7. Squash Bees

Squash Bees are one of the most common types of bees in Colorado. They’re a type of solitary bee, meaning they don’t live in a hive and communicate with other members for reproduction.

The males will usually come into a female’s territory (known as her gall), where she will be on the lookout for him.

When he approaches, she’ll fly around him, and if he’s interested, he’ll take off after her, chasing her from flower to flower until she finally gets tired. Once she does, he’ll grab hold of her with his mouthparts and copulate. 

He’ll then look for another female to do the same thing all over again! Females can store sperm for up to five years, so it is not uncommon for squash bees to mate with different males.

8. Digger Bees

Digger bees are solitary bees that burrow into the ground. They make new tunnels as they go, so you can keep following a tunnel down through the dirt until it ends or continues into an exit hole at the surface. Diggers are most commonly seen around dry streambeds during the summer months. 

If you find a bee flying low to the ground with a curly tail, it is likely a digger bee.

  • To identify a digger bee, look for the black spots on its abdomen and a yellow stripe across its thorax.
  • They will also be missing one pair of legs due to not needing them underground. 
  • The female digs her own nest, which she then seals with mud and wax. She lays eggs inside each cell, one egg per cell, on top of pollen provisions she brings back from nearby flowers.

9. Polyester Bees

Polyester bees are one of the smallest types of bees that you will find in the state. They are just a little smaller than the honeybee, but they have more hair on their body, making them look fuzzy. The hairs are called pubescence. 

These types of bees in Colorado produce a lot less honey than other species of bee, so they’re not very commercially sought after for honey production.

However, polyester bees do pollinate plants and crops, which is beneficial for farmers growing fruits or vegetables.

There are actually a number of different types of polyester bees: blueberry bees, squash bees, cucumber beetles, thistle bumblebees, and rice leafcutter bumblebees.

If you come across any type of bee that looks like this, don’t be alarmed! You can identify these small creatures by looking at their heads; they’ll either have golden hairs around their face (just like the ones on your head), or they’ll be mostly black with white spots behind their head (the bottom half).

10. Masked Bees

Masked Bees are a type of bee that lives in Central America. They have yellow and black stripes on their bodies. They can be mistaken for yellow jackets, but Masked Bees do not bite or sting. 

These bees also have long tongues for collecting pollen from flowers. They do not fly very fast because they carry around pollen sacks and feed their larvae with them.

Male masked bees usually visit flowers to gather nectar and then get chased away by the female masked bee so she can gather food for her young.

There are many types of bees in Colorado, including those mentioned above!

11. Cuckoo Bees

Cuckoo Bees are sometimes mistaken for honey bees, but they are actually a type of wasp. They grow up to an inch long and have long, narrow faces. Their abdomen is shaped like a football or pear, with stripes that run down the length.

You can also see their six legs sticking out underneath the wings while resting. They can be found mostly on flowers, which makes them easy to identify against other types of bees in Colorado.

There are many different types of cuckoo bees, so it’s’ important to look at the entire body shape instead of just one feature. 

For example, the Western Cuckoo Bee looks similar to a bumble bee because it has hairy black and yellow bands, but it’s thorax (the part between the head and abdomen). It is much more slender than the average bumble bee.

12. Mason Bees

Mason Bees are one type of bee that can be found in Colorado. They are solitary bees, meaning they do not live with a colony but instead lay their eggs on individual plants.

These bees are beneficial because they pollinate crops and wildflowers, creating habitats for other types of bees. 

Mason Bees also have an interesting life cycle; females need help from males to mate before they lay eggs, so they will fly around looking for them.

Males will mate with females and then die shortly after; this is why females need more males than males need mates because it takes a lot more energy for them to do so. 

However, there are many types of bees in Colorado, and Mason Bees are just one example. Most of these types of bees live solitary lives like Mason Bees or form colonies like European Honeybees.

13. Leaf Cutter Bees

Leafcutter bees are part of the most common types of bees in Colorado. They are about an inch long, yellow-brown, with white stripes on their abdomens.

These types of bees in Colorado use leaves to build a nest for their larvae, so they can be seen hovering around gardens or bushes where they cut pieces off leaves and chew them into papery thin strips.

Leafcutter bees are beneficial because they help pollinate plants while also making nests for other species that cannot create their own nests.

Some people may mistake these types of bees for bumblebees due to their large size and bright colors, but leaf-cutter bees will not leave stings behind as bumblebees do.

14. Miner Bees

Miner bees are blue, black, or metallic green in color. They can be identified by the way they hover over flowers while feeding. They collect pollen on their hind legs before returning it to the nest.

These bees are found throughout the United States but do not populate as much as other types of bees found in Colorado, such as alfalfa leafcutter bees.

Miner bees have a uniquely shaped abdomen that is smaller than most types of bees found in Colorado. 

Miner bees are considered solitary insects because there is only one female per colony that mates and lays eggs.

The number of male miner bee drones is usually less than 100 males per colony, which means that the number of females at each colony will outnumber males.

15. Carder Bees

Carder bees are known for their large, hairy bodies. They’re also one of the best types of bees in colorado because they pollinate plants while they collect nectar.

You can identify carder bees by looking at their abdomen. If you see a large group of fuzz on the abdomen, it’s probably a carder bee!

In addition to carder bees, there are more types of bees in colorado that deserve attention too. 

What is your favorite type? I’m curious to know if there’s a type I missed or haven’t learned about yet! 


One way you can identify which types of bees in Colorado are in your area is by looking at the bees. The Honey Bee has two sets of wings, while the Bumble Bee only has one set.

Honeybees also have yellowish-gold hairs on their head and thorax, while bumblebees have black hair on these areas.

Another way you can tell the difference between a honeybee and a bumblebee is by looking at the pattern on their abdomen.

Honeybees will have alternating yellowish-gold stripes along their body, while bumbles will be covered with fuzzy brown hairs that create a striped pattern.

Finally, if you’re ever unsure about what type of bee it is, try shaking a branch from a tree near where you saw the insect.

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