16 Types of Bees in Idaho (With Pictures)

Types of Bees in Idaho
Photo by leandro fregoni on Unsplash

Idaho is home to many different species of bees, some of which can only be found in this state.

From the common honey bee to the unique bumble bee, there are types of bees in Idaho that can be seen buzzing around during the warmer months. 

In our post, we’ll look closer at the types of bees in Idaho. We’ll learn about their habits and behaviors, where they live, and how to identify them.

By the end of our post, you’ll better understand Idaho’s diverse bee population.

1. Bumblebees

by Rolf Dietrich Brecher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

One of the most well-known types of bees in Idaho is bumblebees. These fuzzy bees are recognized by their larger size and the loud buzzing sound while flying.

Bumblebees are important pollinators for various crops and wildflowers in Idaho.

They are also known for their ability to “buzz pollinate” certain plants by vibrating their wings to release pollen.

These types of bees in Idaho are social bees that live in colonies. The colonies are led by a queen bee who lays eggs and is responsible for the colony’s survival. 

The worker bees gather nectar and pollen and care for the young.

Bumblebees are important pollinators in Idaho and can often be found in gardens, parks, and natural areas throughout the state.

2. European (Western) Honey Bees

European (Western) Honey Bees
by Jevgenijs Slihto is licensed under CC BY 2.0

One of the most well-known and commonly seen types of bees in Idaho is the European, or Western, honey bee.

These bees are not native to North America but were brought over by European settlers for their honey production. 

They can be recognized by their golden-brown fuzzy bodies and black stripes.

European honey bees are social insects and live in colonies, with one queen bee responsible for laying eggs and maintaining the hive’s organization.

They play an important role in pollinating plants, including many of the crops grown in Idaho. They are also important for honey production and are managed by beekeepers across the state.

3. Large Carpenter Bees

Large Carpenter Bees
by Dakiny is licensed under CC BY 2.0

One of the larger types of bees in Idaho, the large carpenter bee is also one of the most distinctive.

These bees can grow up to an inch long and are often mistaken for bumblebees because of their similar size and shape.

However, large carpenter bees have shiny, hairless abdomens, while bumblebees are fuzzy. 

Large carpenter bees are known for their impressive wood-boring abilities. They can bore holes up to half an inch in diameter into dead wood or unpainted softwood, which they use as nest sites. 

You can’t believe that despite their intimidating size and powerful jaws, these bees in Idaho are relatively gentle and rarely sting humans unless provoked.

They can often be seen hovering around flowers in the spring and summer, gathering nectar and pollen to bring back to their nests.

4. Small Carpenter Bees

Small Carpenter Bees
by BSC Photography is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Small Carpenter Bees, also known as Ceratina species, are one of Idaho’s most common types of bees.

These bees are typically around half an inch long and have a dark metallic blue or green color. 

Unlike their larger counterparts, small carpenter bees do not bore into wood. Instead, they make their nests in dead stems, twigs, or existing insect tunnels.

Small Carpenter Bees are important pollinators, especially for plants like blueberries and cranberries.

They are solitary bees, meaning each female bee creates and tends to her own nest. Unlike honey bees, small carpenter bees do not produce honey or have a queen bee.

If you see a small carpenter bee flying around your garden or backyard, don’t be alarmed – they are harmless and essential for pollinating plants.

5. Long-Horned Bees

Long-Horned Bees
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Another interesting type of bee in Idaho is the long-horned bee.

As their name suggests, these bees have elongated antennae or “horns” that can be up to twice the length of their bodies.

They are typically small, with males being smaller than females, and can vary in color from metallic green to bronze. 

Long-horned bees are solitary bees, meaning they do not live in colonies like honey bees or bumble bees.

Instead, females will create individual nests in the ground, lining them with waterproof materials and providing a stash of pollen and nectar for their offspring.

These bees in Idaho are important pollinators of wildflowers and plants, making them an essential part of Idaho’s ecosystem.

6. Sweat Bees

Sweat Bees
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Sweat bees, or Halictidae, are some of the most common bees found in Idaho. They are named after their habit of feeding on sweat, containing salts and minerals essential for survival.

These bees range in size from small to medium and are typically metallic green, blue, or black.

While sweat bees are generally harmless to humans, their stings can cause mild pain and discomfort.

Sweat bees are important pollinators and are particularly attracted to flowers with bright colors, especially blue and purple.

Some common plants that attract sweat bees in Idaho include wild roses, yarrow, and lavender. 

These types of bees in Idaho are solitary, and each female bee constructs her own nest underground, in logs, or under rocks.

They can also nest in crevices in walls, making them a common sight around homes and buildings in Idaho.

7. Squash Bees

Squash Bees
by JK Nelson is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Squash bees are a type of ground-nesting bee found in Idaho and other parts of North America.

As their name suggests, they are important pollinators of squash, pumpkins, and other related plants in the Cucurbitaceae family.

They also visit other flowers, including those of sunflowers and asters.

Squash bees are medium-sized, with black bodies and distinct bands of yellow hairs on their abdomens.

Unlike many other bees, they are active early morning when the squash flowers and other Cucurbitaceae plants open. They nest in soil, often near the plants they pollinate. 

As solitary types of bees in Idaho, they do not form colonies like honey bees, but multiple females may nest in the same area.

If you grow squash or other related plants, watch for squash bees and appreciate their important role in your garden.

8. Digger Bees

Digger Bees
by davidshort is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Another fascinating type of bee found in Idaho is the digger bee. As their name suggests, these bees create nests by digging underground tunnels.

They typically prefer sandy soil and can be found in gardens, meadows, and fields. 

Digger bees are solitary creatures and do not form colonies like honeybees. They are not aggressive and rarely sting humans. 

They are important in pollinating flowers and crops, making them essential to the ecosystem.

If you see a small, black and yellow striped bee buzzing around your garden, it could be a digger bee!

9. Polyester Bees

Polyester Bees
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Polyester bees, also known as polyester resin bees, are a unique type of bee found in Idaho.

They are native to North America’s western region and commonly found in Idaho’s dry shrub-steppe habitat.

These bees in Idaho are fascinating because they collect and use polyester resin to construct their nests, often built in sand or soil.

Polyester bees are solitary and do not live in large colonies like honeybees. Instead, each female bee constructs and tends to her own nest.

These bees in Idaho are typically active during the summer months and can often be spotted collecting resin from nearby plants to construct their nests.

While polyester bees may not be as well-known as other types of bees, they are important in pollinating the plants in Idaho’s ecosystems.

10. Masked Bees

Masked Bees
by treegrow is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Another unique bee species found in Idaho is the masked bee.

These small types of bees in Idaho are often mistaken for wasps due to their yellow and black coloration and slim build.

However, they are harmless to humans and crucial pollinators for many plants in the state. 

Masked bees are solitary bees that often nest in the ground, using small tunnels to lay their eggs.

They have short tongues, which limits the types of flowers they can pollinate. However, they are still important blueberries, cherries, and apple pollinators.

Next time you see a small black and yellow bee in your garden, take a closer look; it might just be a masked bee!

11. Cuckoo Bees

Cuckoo Bees
by jeans_Photos is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Cuckoo bees are unique and fascinating types of bees in Idaho. Unlike other bees, cuckoo bees do not collect pollen or nectar themselves but instead lay their eggs in the nests of other bees. 

When the cuckoo bee eggs hatch, the larvae will feed on the provisions left behind by the host bee. This parasitic behavior may seem cruel, but it helps control other bee populations.

Several different species of cuckoo bees are found in Idaho, including the Ashy Miner and Painted cuckoo bee.

These bees can be difficult to spot as they are smaller and more inconspicuous than other bee species.

However, if you come across a nest of host bees, watch for cuckoo bees hovering nearby, waiting to lay their eggs.

12. Mason Bees

Mason Bees
by davidshort is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Mason bees are a solitary bee species that are native to Idaho. These are called “mason” bees because they use mud and other materials to build their nests.

They are efficient pollinators commonly used in orchards to pollinate fruit trees.

Unlike honey bees, mason bees do not produce honey or wax or have no social structure. They are smaller than honey bees and have a metallic blue-black color and furry, black abdomen.

Mason bees are often called “super pollinators” because they can pollinate up to 100 times more flowers than honey bees.

These bees have a unique pollination technique called “buzz pollination,” using their wing muscles to vibrate flowers to release pollen. 

Mason bees are very easy to attract to gardens or orchards as they nest in hollow reeds or holes in wood. They are gentle and rarely sting, making them a great addition to any backyard.

13. Leaf Cutter Bees

Leaf Cutter Bees
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Another type of bee you might encounter in Idaho is the leafcutter bee.

These bees are easily recognizable with their black and yellow striped bodies, but they are most known for their interesting nesting habits. 

Leafcutter bees use their sharp mandibles to cut circular sections of leaves, which they then carry back to their nests.

These sections of leaves are then used to line the bee’s nesting tubes, providing a cozy and safe place for their offspring to develop.

Leaf-cutter bees are beneficial pollinators for various crops, especially alfalfa and blueberries. They also do not produce honey, making them less likely to be kept as commercial bees.

So next time you spot a bee carrying a piece of a leaf, know it is most likely a leaf cutter bee and be grateful for its important work in our ecosystems.

14. Miner Bees

Miner Bees
by Paul Albertella is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Miner bees are a type of solitary bee that is commonly found in Idaho.

These types of bees in Idaho are known for their distinctive black-and-white markings and ability to burrow into the ground to make their nests. 

Unlike other bees, miner bees do not form large colonies and prefer to live alone. 

Miner bees are important in pollinating various plants in Idaho, including fruit trees and vegetables.

They are particularly effective at pollinating plants with smaller flowers that other bees may overlook. 

Although these types of bees in Idaho may seem intimidating because of their ability to dig, they are quite harmless and do not threaten humans or pets.

If you spot a miner bee in your garden, take a moment to appreciate its important role in the ecosystem.

15. Carder Bees

Carder Bees
by Frank.Vassen is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Carder bees are small, hairy bees that are usually brown or black in color.

They are named for their behavior of collecting and carding plant fibers to use in building their nests.

Carder bees are known for their ability to fly in windy conditions, which helps them gather pollen and nectar when other bees cannot. 

Carder bees can be found in various habitats, including gardens, meadows, and fields.

They are important pollinators for many plants, including clover, wildflowers, and fruits and vegetables.

Like other bee species, carder bees face threats such as habitat loss and pesticide use, making it important for us to protect them and their habitats.

16. Agapostemon Sweat Bees

Agapostemon Sweat Bees - Types of Bees in Idaho
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Ending our list is Agapostemon Sweat Bees, known for their striking appearance with their bright green or blue metallic bodies.

They are commonly found in meadows and grassy areas throughout Idaho and are important pollinators for many plants, including alfalfa and clover. 

These solitary types of bees in Idaho are non-aggressive and rarely sting, making them a welcomed addition to gardens and farms.

Interestingly, the female Agapostemon Sweat Bee does all the work of building the nest and collecting food for her young, while the male’s sole purpose is to mate. 

Despite their important role in pollination, Agapostemon Sweat Bees are threatened by habitat loss and pesticide use.

It is important to support their survival by planting pollinator-friendly plants and avoiding harmful chemicals.


As you can see, there are different types of bees in Idaho. Each species has its unique characteristics and plays a crucial role in our ecosystem. 

It is important to appreciate and protect these amazing insects, as they not only provide us with delicious honey and pollinate our crops but also contribute to the overall health and diversity of our environment.

So next time you see any of the above types of bees in Idaho buzzing around your garden, take a moment to appreciate its beauty and importance. And you will love it! 

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