Bees are fascinating creatures, aren’t they? They buzz around from flower to flower, collecting sweet nectar, working hard, and making honey.
More than 1,500 bees worldwide, with over 20 species living in Missouri alone! Discover some of the most common types of bees in Missouri below.
Some may look familiar to you, and others might surprise you with just how different they are from our honeybees!
They are essential pollinators that support our local ecology and contribute to our native plants and trees.
The bumblebees pollinate flowers, provide food for other animals and humans, and help control pests. They are especially important because they can pollinate plants that honeybees cannot.
Bumblebees are types of bees in Missouri that are usually found in gardens, meadows, and near lakes or ponds.
Bumblebee species include the rusty patched bumblebee, black-and-yellow bumblebee (the largest), the American bumblebee, the snowberry bumblebee, the red cloverleaf bumblebee, the common eastern cuckoo bee, and the two-spotted cuckoo bee.
2. European (Western) Honey Bees
Carpenter bees are a type of bee that can be found across North America. This is because they typically nest outdoors instead of inside homes and buildings. They are often confused with bumblebees due to their large size.
However, carpenter bees do not produce honey, unlike bum and blebees, and rarely sting people. The males also do not gather pollen as they do not have the long antennae that female bees have for collecting pollen from flowers.
There are several types of bees in Missouri: Halictidae (the sweat bee), Lasioglossum (commonly called the sweat bee), Megachilidae (the leafcutter or mason bee), Anthophoridae (the cuckoo or flowerbed), Bombus erythrorhynchus (bumblebee).
3. Large Carpenter Bees
The giant carpenter bee is one of the most common types of bees found in Missouri.
This type of bee is often mistaken for a bumblebee due to its similar size, but the carpenter has a shiny black abdomen and a yellow-orange band. The female typically nests in tree cavities and holes created by other insects.
She lays her eggs at the bottom of these cavities, then returns to feed her larva honey, sugar water, and pollen.
These bees are often seen during June and July because they are responsible for pollinating many flowering plants that bloom during this time.
They also strongly prefer blooming catalpa trees with clusters of flowers near the top of their branches.
Carpenter bees make small round holes in wood to lay their eggs, which can be up to 5 inches deep! They are also commonly confused with cicada killer wasps due to their similar nesting habits.
However, unlike cicada killer wasps, who prefer stinging caterpillars as food for their larvae, carpenter bees only sting humans if mishandled or threatened.
4. Small Carpenter Bees
Carpenter bees are one of the most common types of bees in Missouri. Female carpenter bees are solitary and do not live with a colony or any other type of bee.
Females burrow into wood, which makes them especially dangerous as they can be mistaken for bumblebees because they have a similar coloration to the species.
This is why it is essential to identify any bees before trying to remove them from your home. Carpenter bees will eat through the soft, porous parts of the wood that have been freshly exposed.
These areas include trim, eaves, fascia boards, and decking. They bore their nesting tunnels about 1/4 wide and 1/2 deep into the wood leaving sawdust piles on their entrances where you can spot them from a distance.
5. Long-Horned Bees
Long-horned bees are one of the different types of bees in Missouri. They have a very long snout, usually about twice their body length.
You’ll find these bees buzzing around flowers, and you may also notice that they are trying to collect pollen on their hind legs by rubbing it against the hairs on their abdomen.
They will use the proboscis to suck up nectar deep within the flower or honeydew from aphids to feed themselves.
These types of bees do not have stingers, so they cannot hurt anyone who comes into contact with them.
6. Sweat Bees
The sweat bee is one of the most diverse types of bees in Missouri. It is named for its habit of drinking sweat from humans and other animals, often while sleeping.
These bees can be found anywhere there is sufficient vegetation to support them, but they prefer locations with flowers that produce nectar, such as linden trees.
Females lay their eggs on a plant or tree to feed the larvae. Males don’t have any role outside of mating; after mating, females use a process called an ovipositor (which functions like a stinger) to deposit eggs into plants or holes inside dead wood.
7. Squash Bees
Squash bees are named for their tendency to nest near the base of squash plants, but they also pollinate cucumbers, zucchini, melons, and other types of fruit.
Squash bees are one type of solitary bee that typically nests on the ground or in the background. These types of bees in Missouri rarely build a hive or store honey and are not aggressive when defending their nest.
These bees will swarm together when they sense danger and will release pheromones so other nearby squash bees can find them.
8. Digger Bees
The digger bee is one of the most common types of bees in Missouri. They love burrowing into the ground and often nest near home foundations, old tree stumps, or soft soil.
Digger bees are small and fuzzy and will nest as close to the surface as possible. The digger bee’s nest consists mainly of a single tube deep into the ground.
These tubes can be up to six inches long and are made from mud, leaves, and grasses. The boxes will also contain pollen, nectar, honey, and an egg cell, with larvae hatching every few days.
9. Polyester Bees
These species are specialist pollinators, meaning that the bees only visit one type of flower for feeding and pollination. They are usually solitary and often make nests out of mud.
Polyester Bees, as their name suggests, nest in areas with abundant natural polyester (long stringy bits of plant material).
They have a green-yellowish thorax with dark stripes on the abdomen. The legs are yellow to orange and black on the front surface. The head has large eyes that face forward to help spot pollen or nectar sources while they fly.
There are two types of Polyester types of bees in Missouri: the genus Augochlora, which includes A. imitatrix, and Augochlorella Vernalis, which provides for A. bimaculata Vernalis.
10. Masked Bees
Of the 15 types of bees in Missouri, Masked Bees are the most diverse. These bees can be found throughout the state and live in various habitats.
They often nest underground and are essential pollinators for many plant species.
Masked Bee larvae feed on roots and other underground plant parts, while adults feed on pollen, nectar, honeydew (excrement from aphids), and tree sap.
11. Cuckoo Bees
Cuckoo bees are one of the most exciting types of bees in Missouri. They live inside the nests of other bee species, eating the food stores and laying their eggs on top. Cuckoos are sneaky; they come out at night to collect pollen from flowers.
The next day, when all the host bees leave for work, cuckoos sneak back into the nest and lay their eggs.
When it’s time for another generation of cuckoo bees to emerge (usually about three weeks later), only about a third of them will be able to because hostess mama bees killed two-thirds! That sounds crazy, but it’s true!
12. Mason Bees
Mason bees are solitary bees, meaning they live alone and only come together to mate. They are also called leafcutters because they cut pieces of leaves or petals to line their nests.
The mason bee is one of the most important pollinators for fruit trees, such as peaches and apples. Mason bees can be identified by their body color, which ranges from dark brown to light tan.
These types of bees in Missouri have distinct black stripes on either side of the abdomen that extends from the middle thorax to the tip. Their face is entirely black and often has a white ring around them.
Male mason bees have a spur on their hind leg which they use during mating season; this feature is difficult to see unless you look closely at them.
13. Leaf Cutter Bees
The leafcutter bee is a solitary bee that lives its entire life on one flower. It’s also one of the few bees that can pollinate plants with small flowers, like cucumbers and pumpkins.
When it visits the flowers, the leafcutter bee collects petals and leaves to return to its nest. Once there, they chew these materials into small pieces before turning them into food for the larvae.
These types of bees in Missouri are so good at this process that they will even change their shape to fit the flower!
14. Miner Bees
Miner bees are small, solitary insects that typically nest under rocks and holes in the ground and ledges. Miner bees are most active at dusk when they leave their nests to feed on pollen and nectar.
Females will use a mix of pollen and nectar to produce a dough-like substance which they use to feed their larvae.
The larvae make honeycombs out of this material and consume it until pupation. At this point, the larvae spin cocoons inside the cells, remaining for about 6-8 weeks before emerging as adult bees.
15. Carder Bees
Carder bees are one of the most abundant types of bees in Missouri. They are often mistaken for bumblebees due to their appearance and behavior.
The yellow/brown stripes can identify carder bees on their abdomen, which is a characteristic that distinguishes them from other types of bees.
Carder bees nest underground and create distinctive-looking honeycombs made of plant fibers or tree bark called cartons. These cartons look like they have a paper texture, giving them the carder’s name.
When you think about bees, you might be thinking about honeybees. However, that’s not the only type.
There are 15 types of bees in Missouri! From the tiniest sweat bees to giant carpenter bees, all 15 types have unique and interesting traits.
If you’re looking for your favorite kind of bee or want to learn more about these fascinating insects, click the link below! You’ll fYou’ll different kinds of bees in Colorado, with descriptions and photos.
I hope this has been an informative post on the various types of bees in Missouri!