The bee kingdom in South Carolina can get quite complex when you’re talking about the different types of bees that reside within the state borders.
There are more than 4,000 types of bees worldwide and about 20 different types of bees in South Carolina alone.
While most people think of honeybees when they think about pollinating insects, there are plenty of other bees in South Carolina that can help keep flowers blooming year-round and provide benefits to humans and plants alike.
Here are 14 types of bees you’ll find in South Carolina, with some great examples of where to see each type!
There are many types of bees in South Carolina, but the kind most often seen is the bumblebee.
Bumblebees can be distinguished by their fuzzy body, short waist, and long legs. Male bumblebees have a hairier bodies than female bumblebees, who have a more slender build.
Bumblebees use pollen to feed themselves and their colony. They also collect nectar to turn into honey as a food source for their settlement.
Honeybees are also common throughout the state and are identified by their yellow-and-black striped abdomen and fuzzy white thorax with two sets of wings.
Honeybees can be found outside and inside homes or other structures that provide shelter from predators or inclement weather conditions.
2. European (Western) Honey Bees
The European (Western) Honey Bee is the world’s most well-known type of bee. They are considered pests due to their aggressive nature and their tendency to attack anything that comes near a hive. Their honey, on the other hand, is delicious!
Bees make honey from flower nectar and store it for later use. A single colony may produce up to 100 pounds of honey each year! There are 14 types of bees found in South Carolina.
3. Large Carpenter Bees
There are 14 types of bees in South Carolina. The first type is the giant carpenter bee, which has been around since the late 1800s.
These large black types of bees in South Carolina with red and yellow stripes can be found by trees, and they’re known to nest underground and make their homes out of wood.
They are one inch long and have a wingspan reaching up to three inches.
The second type is the cuckoo bee, a small brown bee smaller than other types at about half an inch long with a wingspan of about 1/4 inch.
They live on clover but will also eat dandelions, thistles, ragweed, goldenrods, wild carrot, sweet white clover, plantains, and daisies.
4. Small Carpenter Bees
The small carpenter bee is the next type of bee that is common in the Palmetto State.
They are called this because their larva creates tunnels inside the wood and other types of material, including your home’s siding! The female chews a hole into the surface while the male stands guard.
Once she’s finished her work, she’ll lay an egg before sealing up the opening with a substance that makes it difficult for any potential predators to get inside.
It is also possible to attract these bees using nesting materials such as straws or old twigs. The yellow-faced bumblebee is another type you may be able to find in the Carolinas.
5. Long-Horned Bees
Long-Horned bees are found throughout the world, including in South Carolina. These bees produce a chemical called honeydew, which many insects rely on for their food source.
Honeydew is produced by aphids and mealybugs, who feed off plants and trees.
The Long-Horned bee feeds on these insects when producing honeydew to get their protein and carbohydrates.
They also fly from one plant to another and back again, pollinating the flowers along the way. When harvesting nectar, they create a pool that provides water for other animals like birds or humans.
Types of Bees in South Carolina: One type you will find in the state is called sweat bees because they love perspiration and often bite near an ear or neck.
Spider Hunting Bee: A spider-hunting bee will live anywhere there are spiders–they don’t need much else! As soon as it finds its prey, it stings them before carrying them back to its hive.
6. Sweat Bees
Sweat bees have a unique way of finding food. They are attracted to the moisture in sweat and will land on you while you’re working out or gardening to sip some effort from your skin.
These types of bees in South Carolina don’t cause any harm, but they can be irritating because they land on your face or neck and start digging their head into your skin.
The best way to get rid of these bees is to wave your hand over them or brush them off with a towel. Sweat bees are about 1/4 inch long and come in various colors like yellow, black, blue, and red.
7. Squash Bees
The squash bee is a solitary bee that visits flowers to collect nectar and pollen. Squash bees are important pollinators for cucurbit crops like cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash.
They are also essential pollinators for vegetables such as tomatoes, beans, and peas.
The squash bee is the only native to the United States that exclusively pollinates cucurbits.
These types of bees in South Carolina are found most often east of the Rocky Mountains throughout the eastern United States and southern Canada.
8. Digger Bees
Digger bees are the most common type found in the Palmetto State. They often nest underground and feed on pollen or nectar.
These types of bees in South Carolina are essential because it pollinates many different flowering plants, including herbs, vegetables, and fruits.
Because they nest underground, they’re less likely to sting people than their above-ground counterparts. If a digger bee does get too close to you, though, make sure you don’t do anything sudden or swat at it.
9. Polyester Bees
Polyester Bees are bee species found only in the southern United States. They like to make their homes near water sources and often build their nests on manufactured structures, such as houses and sheds.
Unlike other bees, Polyester Bees do not produce honey or pollinate plants. Instead, these stingless bees specialize in feeding on many different types of insects that live near water.
That’s right; they eat bugs for breakfast! The type of bugs that a polyester bee might find include mosquitoes, flies, beetles, caddisflies, and more.
To help get them out of harm’s way from predators like frogs and birds, these types of bees in South Carolina typically only come out at night when it is cooler.
10. Masked Bees
South Carolina is home to fourteen types of bees. One type, the Masked Bee (or blueberry bee), is native to the state and can be found in coastal areas, upland forests, and suburban gardens.
These types of bees in South Carolina are called masked because they cover themselves with a layer of pollen as a form of camouflage when they go out looking for flowers.
They also have a protective coating on their head to brush against stinging plants without being harmed.
11. Cuckoo Bees
Cuckoo bees are the only type that does not produce their food. They are parasites, which means they take from other insects. They lay eggs inside the nests of different types of bees and steal their provisions to feed their young.
When cuckoo bees hatch, they consume the provisions and then kill the host egg or larva so they can continue to receive requirements from this type of bee.
There are three types of cuckoo bees in south Carolina. Nomada – a small bee with yellow and black stripes; Hylaeus – a small bee with yellow markings on its face; Andrena – a small bee with brownish-black markings.
12. Mason Bees
Mason bees are some of the most common types of bees in South Carolina. They have specific habitats and diets and pollinate orchards, gardens, and crops.
Mason bees prefer to eat blueberries, cucumbers, squash blossoms, grape flowers, strawberries, and apples.
They are essential to crop production in the southeastern United States. As their name suggests, they make nests in hollow stems.
Some varieties nest inside old woody stems like fence posts and tree trunks, while others nest in holes drilled into wooden blocks with bee-sized holes called bee blocks.
13. Leaf Cutter Bees
Leafcutter bees are easily identified by their black and yellow stripes. They can be found all over the United States but are more prevalent in the southern states.
Leaf-cutter bees have a symbiotic relationship with certain plants, and they will cut out sections of leaves to make a home for themselves.
They have an attraction to specific plants that contain high levels of nectar. The leafcutter bee will cut sections from these plants and then bring them back to the hive so that larvae can eat the leaves as food.
14. Miner Bees
Miner Bees are a type of bee also known as Leaf-Cutting Bees. These bees use their mandibles to cut pieces of leaves and then take those leaves back to their nest.
When cutting the leaf, they create a curved portion with a straight edge on the opposite side.
They often work in groups and can be seen cutting many leaves at once. They have one row of bristles below their abdomen called scopae, which allow them to move the leaves efficiently.
Miner Bees are different than other types of bees in South Carolina because they do not eat pollen or nectar. Instead, they feed on plant resins and produce honeydew.
If you’re lucky enough to encounter one of the 14 types of bees in South Carolina, thank them for their hard work.
They’ve been pollinating plants and flowers for over 100 million years and have probably visited your yard more than once.
Their winged friends are responsible for our beautiful gardens and fields and for providing honey to sweeten many foods.
So next time you see a bee, whether a honeybee or not, be sure to appreciate their dedication because, without these little creatures, we’d all starve!