Halictid Bee – Augochlora pura

Halictid Bee – Augochlora pura
Order Hymenoptera – Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies / Family Halictidae
Live halictid bees photographed and filmed in the wild at North American locations. 

Bees & Wasps Index | Parasitica | Aculeata | Symphyta

There are some 500 species of Halictidae in North America [1]. Many are easily recognizable due to their beautiful, iridescent green or golden colors, making them favorites of many insect photography hobbyists. Most are pollen feeders and important pollinators, especially in light of the worldwide decline of the domestic honeybee. However, continuing destruction of their habitat due to human encroachment and modern agriculture's unfortunate love affair with vast monocultures of self-pollinating crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat, rice are exacerbating the general decline in viable populations of wild hymenoptera [2].

Fruit and seed crops that depend on insect pollinators (apples, almonds, broccoli, chili peppers, cantaloupe, carrots, strawberries, grapes, among many others) produce relatively little food per acre compared to the crops that provide our staple carbohydrates. The expansion of farmland to produce these crops is a double-edged sword; it destroys wild bees' nesting sites, and it destroys the wildflower stock the bees depend on when the fruit trees are not in flower [2].

Researchers in Britain and the Netherlands have found that the diversity of wild bee species in those countries has declined since 1980 [3]. 
Between 1940 and 1960, as more and more land came under cultivation in the American Midwest, several species of native bumblebees disappeared from the area.  A growing shortage of both domesticated (the number of managed honeybee hives declined by 45% over the past 50 years) and wild pollinators perpetuates a vicious circle: fewer pollinators reduce crop yields, requiring cultivation of even more land to produce the same amount of food [2].

Halictid bees are important pollinators of flowering plants [2].  Augochlora pura

Eusocial species
Many species in the subfamily Halictinae are eusocial at least in part, with fairly well-defined queen and worker castes and certain manifestations of their social behavior appear to be facultative in various lineages.

Halictid Bee consolidates load by evaporation

Cleptoparasitic species
Several other genera and species of halictids are cleptoparasites of other bees (mostly other halictids), and the behavior has evolved at least nine times independently within the family. The most well-known and common are species in the genus Sphecodes, which are somewhat wasp-like in appearance. The female Sphecodes enters the cell with the provision mass, eats the host egg, and lays an egg of her own in its place [4].


  1. John L. Foltz, University of Florida, Dept of Entomology & Nematology, ENY 3005 Hymenoptera: Halictidae.
  2. Marcelo Aizen and Lawrence Harder, New York Times, “Too-Busy Bees” March 24, 2010
  3. Science, “Parallel Declines in Pollinators and Insect-Pollinated Plants in Britain and the Netherlands
  4. Wikipedia, Halictidae

Order Hymenoptera: Bees, Wasps, & Ants

Hymenoptera (Latin for membrane wing) is a vast assemblage of insects second only to Coleoptera (beetles) in the number of described species. Hymenoptera number some 115,000 species – of which 18,000 live in North America. Hymenopterans inhabit a wide variety of habitats, and show an incredible diversity in size, behavior, structure and color.
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