12 Types of Bees in Kansas (With Pictures)

Types of Bees in Kansas
Photo by Boba Jaglicic on Unsplash

The prairies and meadows of Kansas are home to a rich tapestry of flora and fauna, with a notable emphasis on the vital role played by bees.

These types of bees in Kansas are recognized as iconic pollinators and serve as a captivating study subject due to their remarkable diversity and intricate social structures.

In Kansas, these industrious insects contribute significantly to the region’s agricultural productivity and ecological balance.

In the heart of the United States, Kansas boasts various bee species adapted to its varied landscapes, from the sprawling grasslands to the woodlands and river valleys.

These diverse habitats provide an ideal environment for numerous bee species to thrive and contribute to the intricate web of life.

1. Digger Bees

Digger Bees
by davidshort is licensed under CC BY 2.0

One of the most fascinating bees in Kansas is the digger bee, also known as the ground-nesting bee.

As the name suggests, these bees excavate tunnels in the ground where they construct their nests.

Digger bees can be solitary or live in small groups, and they typically make their homes in soil that is well-drained and easily excavated. 

These bees are important pollinators of native plants and wildflowers, making them a vital part of the Kansas ecosystem.

Despite their important role in the ecosystem, digger bees are often misunderstood and feared due to their burrowing habits.

However, it’s important to note that these bees are not aggressive and will only sting if they feel threatened. 

If you see digger bees in your yard, try to avoid disturbing their nests, and instead, take the time to observe these fascinating insects as they go about their important work.

Overall, digger bees are just one of the many types of bees in Kansas worth learning about and appreciating.

By taking the time to understand these fascinating creatures, we can work towards protecting and preserving their habitat for future generations to enjoy.

2. Long-Horned Bees

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

Long-Horned Bees, also known as Melissodes bees, are a native species of bees common in Kansas.

These bees have long antennae, which gives them their name. They are solitary bees and prefer to live in sandy or loose soil areas. 

They also prefer to forage in open fields or meadows where they can find flowers like asters, sunflowers, and goldenrod.

The females of this species are the ones that do all the work; they collect nectar and pollen to feed their young, which they store in underground nests.

Long-Horned Bees have a unique adaptation where they can fly even in lower temperatures. 

They will bask in the sun on cold mornings to warm up their flight muscles. Long-Horned Bees are important pollinators of many crops, including apples, blueberries, cherries, and alfalfa.

Their long tongues allow them to reach deep into the flower for nectar. 

Interestingly, these bees also have a social hierarchy where larger females dominate smaller ones.

Overall, Long-Horned Bees are a fascinating and important species of bees in Kansas, playing a crucial role in pollinating many crops.

They are a great example of the diversity and adaptability of bees in our ecosystem.

3. Honeybees

by cygnus921 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Honeybees are perhaps the most well-known types of bees in Kansas. They are widely regarded as one of the most important pollinators of our crops, plants, and flowers.

Honeybees live in large colonies and work together to build intricate honeycombs containing anywhere from 20,000 to 60,000 bees.

Honeybees are famous for producing delicious and nutritious honey that is loved by people all over the world.

They collect nectar from various flowers and plants, which they return to the hive and process into honey.

Honeybees play a critical role in the ecosystem and are essential for the growth of many of our crops.

However, honeybees are threatened by various factors, such as habitat loss, pesticide use, and climate change.

We must do everything possible to protect honeybees and other bees in Kansas and worldwide.

We can do this by planting pollinator-friendly flowers, reducing the use of harmful chemicals, and supporting bee conservation efforts.

Honeybees are just one of the many fascinating types of bees living in Kansas.

These bees play an essential role in our ecosystem, and it’s up to us to protect them and their habitats for future generations.

4. Bumblebees

by at8eqeq3 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Bumblebees are one of the most well-known and beloved types of bees in Kansas.

They are large and fuzzy, with a distinctive black and yellow striped pattern that makes them easily recognizable.

Bumblebees are known for their excellent pollination skills and are important to the state’s ecosystem and agricultural industry.

These bees live in colonies, with one queen and several hundred worker bees.

They are social insects with a highly organized hierarchy that enables them to efficiently collect nectar and pollen from flowers.

Bumblebees are also excellent buzz pollinators, meaning they vibrate their wings to dislodge pollen from flowers.

Bumblebees are active in the early spring emerging from hibernation and searching for a suitable nesting site.

They prefer to build their nests underground, in abandoned rodent burrows or other protected spaces.

Despite their large size, bumblebees are not aggressive and will generally only sting if provoked or threatened. 

Their sting is relatively mild, with little risk of a severe allergic reaction. Bumblebees are a fascinating and valuable species that play an important role in Kansas’s biodiversity.

By supporting their habitat and promoting conservation, we can ensure these beloved bees thrive in the state for years.

5. Carpenter Bees

Carpenter Bees
by siraf72 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Carpenter bees, also known as wood bees, are some of the largest bee species found in Kansas.

They are known for their shiny black body with yellow stripes and a relatively hairless abdomen. These bees are solitary insects that live in holes bored into wood.

While carpenter bees are important pollinators, they are also considered pests because they cause damage to wooden structures.

The females drill into wood to create a nesting site and lay eggs. This can weaken the wood and cause structural damage over time. 

If you notice large, circular holes in your wooden structures or furniture, it is likely caused by carpenter bees.

To prevent damage, sealing and treating any exposed wood is important to deter carpenter bees from nesting.

Although they can be a nuisance to homeowners, carpenter bees are important in pollinating native plants and crops.

It is important to respect their role in the ecosystem and take measures to coexist with them safely.

6. Mining Bees

Mining Bees
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Another fascinating type of bee you may encounter in Kansas is the mining bee.

These bees, also known as Andrena bees, are solitary species that often make their homes underground in burrows. Mining bees do not have a hive or queen like other bees. 

Instead, each female bee creates her own nest in the ground. These bees in Kanakas often fly low to the ground for flowers as they collect nectar to return to their nest.

One interesting thing about mining bees is that they are often the first to emerge in the springtime. 

This makes them an important pollinator for early blooming flowers, trees, and crops. Mining bees have been known to play a significant role in pollinating fruits like apples and blueberries.

While mining bees are not known to be aggressive toward humans, they may become defensive if their nest is disturbed. 

It’s important to be aware of their presence and avoid disturbing their burrows. Mining bees are a unique and important type of bee in Kansas.

As a solitary species, they pollinate various plants and crops, making them an essential part of our ecosystem.

7. Leafcutter Bees

Leafcutter Bees
by Rolf Dietrich Brecher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

One of the most fascinating types of bees in Kansas is the leafcutter bee. These bees are known for their unique behavior of using circular pieces of leaves to create their nests.

Leafcutter bees use their mandibles to cut leaves from various plants, creating circular discs which they then carry to their nest sites. 

Leafcutter bees are typically solitary bees and do not live in hives. They prefer to make their nests in soft wood or hollow stems, such as those of raspberry or rose bushes.

These bees are often considered beneficial to gardens as they are effective pollinators for many plant species.

Interestingly, leafcutter bees are also used in agriculture as pollinators for alfalfa, blueberries, and onions.

They are hardworking bees and can sometimes pollinate more efficiently than honeybees.

Although leafcutter bees may appear a nuisance due to their habit of cutting circular pieces out of leaves, they benefit the ecosystem and play an important role in pollination.

It is important to coexist with these amazing creatures and appreciate their unique contribution to our environment.

8. Sweat Bees

Halictus Sweat Bees - Different Types of Sweat Bees
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Another type of bee found in Kansas is the sweat bee. These bees are often seen buzzing around human perspiration, hence their name. They are typically small, metallic green, and can be solitary or social.

Sweat bees are important pollinators and are attracted to flowers that produce a lot of nectar.

Interestingly, sweat bees can be categorized into two groups: those that collect pollen on their legs (called “legume bees”) and those that collect it on their bellies (called “non-legume bees”).

They are also known to have a “sweet tooth” and are attracted to sweet foods such as fruit. Despite their name, sweat bees are not aggressive and will only sting if threatened. 

Their sting is relatively mild, and they do not leave behind a barbed stinger like honeybees.

Sweat bees are known to be important predators of other insect pests, making them valuable members of the ecosystem. 

Sweat bees are another fascinating type of bee found in Kansas.

Their attraction to sweet and sweet foods and their importance as pollinators and predators make them a valuable addition to the types of bees in Kansas.

9. Masked Bees

Masked Bees
by treegrow is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Masked bees, also known as masked sweat bees, are one of Kansas’s most common bee species.

These small bees are often mistaken for wasps due to their yellow and black markings and size, typically around a quarter inch long.

However, unlike wasps, masked bees are pollinators that play an important role in Kansas’ ecosystem. 

They can be found in many habitats, from prairies to woodlands, and are known for their unusual behavior of collecting pollen on their hind legs.

One interesting fact about masked bees is that they are named for the tiny patch of hair that covers their faces, giving them a “masked” appearance.

The females of this species also have the unique ability to collect and store sweat from human and animal skin. 

Despite their small size, masked bees are important pollinators of many plants in Kansas, including wildflowers and crops like alfalfa and sunflowers.

So the next time you spot one of these tiny bees buzzing around, take a moment to appreciate the important role they play in our ecosystem.

10. Mason Bees

Mason Bees
by davidshort is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Mason bees are another type of bee found in Kansas that are known for their pollination abilities.

These solitary bees get their name from their ability to construct their nests using mud, just like a mason would use mortar to build a wall.

Mason bees are slightly smaller than honeybees and have a dark, metallic sheen to their bodies. 

They typically emerge from their nests in early spring, just in time to pollinate fruit trees and berry bushes.

One unique trait of mason bees is their lack of stingers. These types of bees in Kansas are not aggressive and rarely sting humans. 

However, they can buzz pollinate, which means they vibrate their wings at a specific frequency to shake pollen loose from the flower’s anthers.

This makes them excellent pollinators for crops such as blueberries and cherries.

If you’re interested in attracting mason bees to your garden, you can provide them with a suitable nesting habitat by drilling small holes into a wood block or purchasing a mason bee house. 

This will encourage these gentle pollinators to reside in your yard and help your garden thrive.

Mason bees are just one of the many fascinating types in Kansas that play an important role in our ecosystem.

By learning about these different bee species and supporting their habitats, we can help ensure that these essential pollinators continue to thrive for years.

11. Cuckoo Bees

Cuckoo Bees
by jeans_Photos is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Cuckoo bees, also known as cleptoparasitic bees, are a fascinating group of bees found in Kansas and other parts of North America.

They are known for their unique reproductive strategy, in which they parasitize the nests of other bee species.

Cuckoo bees belong to the family Apidae, which includes familiar bees like honey bees and bumble bees. 

There are several species of cuckoo bees in Kansas, each with its own characteristics and host preferences.

Cuckoo bees exhibit a wide range of colors and sizes. They can have various patterns and may resemble wasps more than typical bees.

However, they are still classified as bees due to their biological traits and evolutionary history.

12. Squash Bees

Squash Bees
by pecooper98362 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Another interesting bee species found in Kansas is the squash bee.

As the name suggests, these bees are particularly attracted to squash plants that pollinate to produce fruits.

These small and solitary bees have a shiny and metallic green appearance, making them easily identifiable. 

They are active during the summer and tend to be found in large numbers in squash fields.

Like other types of bees in Kansas, squash bees play a crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance and helping to ensure the reproduction of various plant species. 

Despite their importance, however, these bees are often threatened by pesticide use and habitat loss.

Therefore, it is important to raise awareness about the importance of these insects and work towards creating a more bee-friendly environment.

Cuckoo bees are cleptoparasites, which means they rely on the nests of other bee species for their reproduction.

Unlike other bees that collect pollen and nectar to provision their nests, cuckoo bees do not build their nests or gather resources.

Instead, the female cuckoo bee locates the nests of suitable host bees and lays her eggs inside them.


Kansas is home to a diverse array of bees, each playing a vital role in pollination and the overall health of ecosystems.

From the well-known honey bees and bumble bees to the lesser-known mason bees, carpenter bees, sweat bees, and cuckoo bees, Kansas provides a habitat for a wide variety of bee species.

These bees contribute to pollinating native plants, crops, and garden flowers, thereby ensuring the reproduction and survival of many plant species. 

Bees also serve as indicators of environmental health, as their presence and abundance can reflect the overall well-being of ecosystems.

Understanding the different types of bees in Kansas is crucial for conservation efforts and promoting pollinator-friendly practices. 

By providing suitable habitats, minimizing pesticide use, and cultivating diverse flowering plants, individuals and communities can contribute to preserving and protecting bees and their invaluable role as pollinators.

It is important to note that bee populations face various challenges, including habitat loss, pesticide exposure, climate change, and disease. 

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