A bee can help pollinate your garden, but there are many different types of bees in Florida, and not all are helpful to the environment.
Florida has over 100 bee species that live within the state’s borders, including bumblebees, honeybees, carpenter bees, digger bees, and sweat bees.
Knowing which bees live in your area will help you avoid getting stung or making an innocent mistake that could hurt a local bee population.
Bees are essential to poll many plants, and some play an important role in pollinating crops that humans depend on.
Read on to learn more about the types of bees in Florida and where to find them!
1. Metallic Epauletted-Sweat Bee
Two types of bees live in Florida: the Metallic Epauletted-Sweat Bee and the Banded Sweat Bee. They live mainly in the southern part of the state but can be found as far north as Gainesville.
The metallic epauletted sweat bee is a solitary bee that builds individual nests inside rotting stumps, tree cavities, or beneath loose bark.
It prefers sandy soil but can also be found near clover patches. These types of bees in Florida is a social bee that lives alone or in small groups within colonies.
They nest underground or above ground under logs, rocks, clumps of grass, leaves, or even discarded bits of metal.
Some prefer nesting on high open spaces such as telephone poles or rooftops. I didn’t mention any other types of bees in my blog post, so I will continue with text about where to find them (four sentences using the words: types of bees in Florida):
The banded sweat bee prefers dark areas with vegetation for its nest site, whereas the metallic epauletted-sweat bee is drawn to sunlight, so it’s typically seen flying around flowers during daylight hours.
2. Florida Longhorn-Cuckoo
These bees are solitary nesters, so they don’t create hives but burrow down into a hole in wood or soil somewhere near water (streams, lakes, ponds), where they construct a single comb made of hexagonal cells hold honey, pollen, and eggs.
They are some of the most common types of bees in Florida, and you can find them anywhere from residential areas to rural forests.
If you find one, the easiest way to identify it is by looking at its abdomen for two large lumps on either side, which house muscles used for breaking off pieces of pollen from flowers.
Male cuckoos have these lumps more developed than females do. The female cuckoo lays her egg within a cell before filling it with enough food to sustain her offspring during development. The larvae then hatch and feed on this stored food until becoming fully grown.
3. Common Longhorn Bee
The Common Longhorn Bee is one of Florida’s most common bees. They are considered solitary bees and can be found throughout the entire state.
They are also one of the first bees you’ll see buzzing around flowers as they pollinate them, collecting nectar or pollen for their needs.
This type of bee only lives about three weeks, a relatively short lifespan. The Common Longhorn Bee gets its name from their long antennae that resemble horns on a longhorn cattle head.
They have yellow-brown stripes on their abdomen with black spots on the sides that might look like eyes if you’re looking at them from above.
These different types of bees in Florida feed primarily on legumes such as beans, peas, and clover but eat other plants when needed.
You may spot these types of bees hovering near the tops of plants where they’ve been gathering nectar or patrolling back and forth along the underside of leaves where they’ve been harvesting pollen.
The Common Longhorn Bee is often confused with another type of bee called the Honeybee because both use a similar body type.
4. Shining Oil-Digger Bee
The shining oil-digger bee is a solitary bee that makes its home inside the ground. The female digs out the nesting hole, line it with a waterproof lining from her saliva, and then lays one egg on top. The larva hatches and goes through four stages before pupating.
When she emerges as an adult, she can dig her way up to the surface, where she will find nectar sources for food.
Oil-digger bees are not social or aggressive and do not produce honey like other types of bees in Florida. When threatened, they may sting once but cannot sting again.
They have been observed feeding on animal dung, dead insects, or rotting fruit to supplement their diet when nectar sources are unavailable near their nest site.
A male Shining Oil-Digger Bee does not live with the female; he mates with her during flight and then leaves.
The female only mates once, so she spends most of her time making nests. She only leaves briefly when the eggs hatch or if there is an emergency (like if water seeps into the nest).
5. Dilemma Orchid Bee
The Dilemma Orchid Bee is an endangered species native to the Southeast United States. They are solitary bees, meaning they do not form colonies like other bees.
They make their nests by burrowing into the soil and lining the burrow with a substance called propolis.
The females will use their mandibles (jaws) to cut pieces of foliage, which they then chew up into a pulp before inserting it into the tunnel.
They also make an egg cell at the end of each burrow for laying eggs. Females will only produce one or two cells per day before moving on, so only one generation can be made yearly.
First, they find a spot with loose soil under a tree or bush. After digging about six inches, the female starts filling her burrow with tiny bits of plant material, such as grasses and flowers.
Once she finishes filling her tunnel, she lays an egg in one end and seals off the opening with more plant material before starting another nest elsewhere.
When winter arrives and temperatures drop below freezing, many of these bees die off due to a lack of food sources available.
6. Blueberry Digger Bee
The Blueberry Digger Bee (Osmia lignaria) is a solitary bee that lives alone in the wild. They are black with yellow stripes that match the flowers they pollinate. They dig into soft soil or piles of rotting fruit to make a nest for their larvae.
They also use this same nesting site for collecting pollen and nectar, so you may see them flying around on lovely days when there isn’t any blueberry bloom.
You can find these types of bees in Florida anywhere, but they’re most common where people plant blueberries.
If you want to attract more of them to your yard, plant some blueberry bushes.
In addition to the blueberry digger bee, there are three other types of native solitary bees: carpenter bees, leafcutter bees, and mason bees.
Carpenter Bees: these types of bees in Florida are giant wasps that make paper-like nests out of the wood pulp.
Their nests start small enough but proliferate because they only mate once and then die off after the female lays her eggs.
7. Flat-Tailed Leaf-Cutter Bee
Florida has a variety of types of bees that are native to the state. An excellent place to start looking for these species is your backyard, where they may be pollinating plants.
Flat-Tailed Leaf-Cutter Bees, for example, can be found pollinating plants that bloom from spring through fall.
They typically nest underground or on the ground near their host plants. If you’re lucky enough to spot one, you’ll notice it’s black with reddish-orange stripes on its abdomen and white hair on its head and thorax.
These types of bees in Florida are very docile, so you don’t need to worry about being stung as long as you don’t disturb them.
Many people use leafcutter bee larvae to feed reptiles and amphibians. Flat-tailed Leaf-cutter bees also use their pollen baskets to transport pollen among different plants to help keep certain flowers pollinated (which helps produce more fruit).
The best way to attract flat-tailed leafcutter bees is by planting flowers that provide food sources, such as flowering herbs like oregano, thyme, lavender, chives, basil, or parsley.
8. Pure Green-Sweat Bee
There are over 450 bees in Florida, but the most common type is the European Honeybee. The other types are sweat bees, carpenter bees, bumblebees, stingless bees, and more.
The Pure Green-Sweat Bee is often found on flowers in wetter areas like the panhandle or around wetlands like marshes.
It also can be found by looking for flower droppings, as this bee only feeds on flower nectar. Pollen from various plants has a broader range than other types of bees in Florida.
In contrast, sweat bees will gather pollen from a single plant, so their diet significantly affects their type.
They come out in large numbers during the daytime, unlike other types of bees, which usually work at night. Carpenter bees get their name by drilling holes into wood and making hives inside them.
Bumblebees fly during the day, while smaller solitary species tend to fly at night since they have fewer defenses against predators due to being alone.
9. Common Eastern Bumble Bee
The Common Eastern Bumble Bee, Bombus impatiens, is the most common species of bee in Florida. These types of bees in Florida are social insects that live together with a queen bee and worker bees.
The worker bees build the hive, gather food, care for young bees, and defend the pack from other animals.
Eastern bumblebees feed on nectar from flowers and collect pollen to use as a food source for the colony. They can be found throughout Florida but are usually near areas with flowers or fruit trees. The genus of this insect is Bombus which translates to buzzing in Latin.
It was given this name because these types of bees make buzzing noises when flying and trying to scare predators away from the hive.
Social insect refers to animals that live closely with others, like ants, honeybees, wasps, or beetles.
10. American Bumble Bee
The American Bumble Bee is the most common bee found in the state of Florida. It’s easy to spot with its black and yellow stripes and can be seen pollinating flowers all over the state, especially citrus trees. This giant bee is generally harmless but will sting if it feels threatened.
If you see one on your property, try not to disturb it, as this will scare them away from your property for a while.
The best thing to do when encountering an American bumblebee is to step out of their way since they are very territorial and won’t stop flying until they’ve left your territory.
These different types of bees in Florida is a giant bee that gets their name from their fuzzy body, which contains long, soft hair.
They get these hairs from eating a lot of plant pollen. Like many other bees, the American bumblebee collects nectar from flowers to feed themselves and their young.
These bees fly around from flower to flower and can often be seen around people with flowering plants nearby.
They have been known to live anywhere between 1-3 years in a single colony, so don’t worry about getting rid of them altogether!
11. Southern Carpenter Bee
Carpenter bees are among the few in the northern United States. Their shiny black abdomens can quickly identify them with bands or stripes.
You can find them on many plants, including roses, eucalyptus, hollyhocks, lilacs, apples, and willows.
These types of bees in Florida will drill into wood to make a nest for their eggs. This is why you might see piles of sawdust around the opening of a wood pile or log. The female carpenter bee drills her hole and then lays an egg.
The male then goes back to the nesting area and finds a mate. They produce only one generation per year. These bees prefer deciduous trees with open flowers, such as basswood, linden, elm, and oak.
Carpenter bees tend to emerge when warm days are mixed with cooler ones. Southern carpenter bees prefer wetter areas near water sources like lakes or streams, but they also inhabit drier habitats near buildings.
12. Poey’s Furrow Bee
Poey’s Furrow Bee is a solitary bee that makes burrows on the ground. The female builds tunnels with cells for larvae before laying eggs. The larvae hatch into pupae after about a month and then emerge as adults.
These different types of bees in Florida are found throughout the United States. They prefer sandy areas with sparse vegetation, such as dunes or desert scrub vegetation.
They will fly away if disturbed, so it can be challenging to find them if you need to know what you’re looking for.
The distinctive way they dig is easy to tell them apart from other types of bees in Florida when you do see one. Female Poey’s Furrow Bees use their antennae to search out existing burrows to lay their eggs.
After finding an appropriate site, she digs out a tunnel at the bottom, creating several small cells for her brood (each about 2 millimeters long). She lays her egg within each cell and seals it before starting another nearby cell.
13. Brown-Belted Bumblebee
The brown-belted bumblebee is one of the most common species of bee found in Florida. They are relatively large, averaging about 1⁄2 inch long with a wingspan that can reach 3⁄4 inch.
These bees have black abdomens with yellow stripes, which differentiate them from honeybees.
They are also covered with fine white hair and have broad heads. The brown-belted bumblebee has been observed feeding on various flowers, including goldenrod, squash plants, and even cactus blooms. These type of bees in Florida is not as aggressive as others but will sting if provoked or threatened.
One distinguishing characteristic of these bees is their loud buzzing noise when flying. Another interesting fact about brown-belted bumblebees is that they produce over 70% of the food crop pollination in North America. They are also covered with fine white hair and have broad heads.
The brown-belted bumblebee has been observed feeding on various flowers, including goldenrod, squash plants, and even cactus blooms.
These bees in Florida are not as aggressive as others but will sting if provoked or threatened. One distinguishing characteristic of these bees is their loud buzzing noise when flying.
Another interesting fact about brown-belted bumblebees is that they produce over 70% of the food crop pollination in North America.
14. Carpenter-Mimic Leafcutter Bee
The most common type of bee in the state is the carpenter-mimic leafcutter bee. This species is often mistaken for a bumblebee because of its size, but it’s part of the solitary bee family.
These types of bees in Florida build nests by cutting out circular sections from leaves attached to twigs or tree branches with their mandibles.
The nest resembles a hole drilled into the wood, which is why they are often called leafcutter bees. Nests consist of multiple cells that the female will fill with nectar and pollen before laying an egg on top.
Once she has laid her eggs, she’ll close up the compartment with a layer of wax, seal it off and move on to create another one.
These nests are excellent food sources for other insects, such as wasps, so it’s essential to protect them if you want them around your garden.
15. Western Honey Bee
The Western Honey Bee is the most well-known bee in Florida. This species is found throughout the state as far north as Jacksonville, east as Miami, and south as Key Largo.
The Western Honey Bee can be identified by its long tongue, which it uses to collect nectar from inside flowers.
The Western Honey Bee is also identifiable by its dark coloration on the abdomen and thorax, its hairy face with black-and-yellow stripes, and orange wings with black spots at their tips.
These types of bees in Florida prefer open landscapes where they can easily access a wide variety of flowering plants from which they can gather nectar for honey production.
16. Common Eastern Bumble Bee
The most common type of bee in Florida is the Eastern Bumble Bee. They are found throughout the state, but they are more prevalent near citrus groves, fields, and gardens with flowers. Bumblebees nest in ground burrows or abandoned rodent burrows.
Their nests may have one or more queens and several workers. The queen will select a nest site while she is still young, but sometimes when no available sites are left, she will start building her own nest from scratch.
Eastern bumblebees feed on pollen and nectar from hibiscus, cucumber vines, tomatoes, grapes, morning glory vines, goldenrod flowers, and many others.
There are many types of bees in Florida, most being solitary creatures. However, some social bees live together during the summer months.
These include honeybees, carpenter bees, leafcutter bees, squash bees, and alfalfa leafcutter bees.
Honeybees build their hives from wax created by worker bees. This wax is used as a food source for new larvae as well as insulation against the cold weather.
Carpenter bees burrow into wood to create nests for their young, while other types of solitary insects use what they have available.
Leafcutter bees chew away at leaves or flowers before returning them to their nest. The different types of bees in Florida come alive with the changing seasons.
They provide an essential role in pollinating plants and crops. They also help provide food sources for other wildlife like birds and butterflies.