Wearing o' the Green

On St. Patrick's Day, we see green. We crave green. We wear green.

And the penalty for not wearing green? You get pinched.

Not so with green sweat bees. As their common name implies, they're green. A metallic green. But no pinching allowed!

The green sweat bee, Agapostemon spp., is an unforgettable bee. The females are metallic green, from head to thorax to abdomen. The males, however, are "half green"; they have green heads and thoraxes, but yellow-and-black striped abdomens.

In California, Agapostemon texanus is widespread and common, according to the authors of the card set, Common Bees in California Gardens, published by the University of California Agriculture and Nature Resources. It's the work of UC Berkeley and UC Davis entomologists, including Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomolgy and Nematology. It's a companion to the book, California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists.

The card set, illustrated with photos and filled with facts, features 24 bees. This will give you a head start in identifying  California's 1600 species of native bees--and inspire you to learn more.

Meanwhile you can learn about the distribution, flight season, nesting habits, floral hosts and how each bee species transports pollen.

How to order: You can order online ($15 per book) on this website, http://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/Details.aspx?itemNo=3552

Meanwhile, keep a lookout for green sweat bees. Their flight season is from March into October, but their peak flight activity occurs from May into September.  We've seen them on Cosmos and Rudbeckia (sunflower family) and Erigeron (daisy family).

Not on St. Patrick's Day, though.