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Alkali Bee

Nomia poss. tetrazonata


Photo © by Mike Plagens

Apidae -- Bee Family

Although this great number of Alkali Bees are all nesting in close proximity they are in fact solitary bees. Each female bee digs and provisions her own tunnel in the soil and will defend it from any neighboring bee that invades it. It so happens that this spot meets the specific soil conditions - a partially damp saline soil below that developes a hardened crust at the surface - that the bees require.

Besides the alkali desert agricultural operations nearby offer fields of alfalfa - the flowers of which are an important nectar and pollen source for this species. Indeed with declines in European Honey Bees growers requiring pollination services have turned to this bee among others. There are quite a number of alkali bee species that require some magnification and expertise to identify.

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2008