Sweat Bee: Overlooked and Underloved

Let's hear it for the sweat bee. 

It's one of the many tiny bees that ought to be honored and recognized during Pollination Week, June 21-27, but it's often overlooked.

We've been seeing many of this species, Halictus tripartitus, in our pollinator garden in Vacaville.  It's also called the "Tripartite Sweat Bee."

Thomas "Tom" Zavortink, a research entomologist and associate at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, noted why this one is Halictus tripartitus. "The abdominal terga appear to have apical hair bands, suggesting Halictus, and the scutum appears to have a slight metallic coloration, which along with the small size suggests Halictus tripartitus."  Zavortink focuses on the systematics and biology associated with mosquitoes and solitary bees.

Check out BugGuide and Discover Life to see some excellent images of this species. The Great Sunflower Project also zeroes in on this species on this page.

Most Halictus are generalist foragers, according to the Great Sunflower Project. "They use all sorts of genera of plants from the Asteraceae to Scrophulariaceae. They are very common on composites (daisy-like disc and ray flowers) in summer and fall."

We've seen them on everything from mustard to milkweeds to catmint to rock purslane, from spring to fall. They also appear regularly on the tower of jewels (Echium wildpretii).

Let's hear it for the sweat bee, an overlooked and underloved little pollinator.