Sand Bees

Is it just me?

One of the main industries here in Fort Bragg was forestry. Since 1852, when Jeremy Ford arrived on the Mendocino Coast from Gold Rush San Francisco to salvage what was left after the wreck of the Frolic, (yet another story) which was carrying supplies from China for the miners, our trees have been under siege. San Francisco was growing exponentially, to the point where when a ship arrived in the harbor, the crew would abandon it for the gold fields, and the ship would be dragged ashore for housing. No fool was Ford. He saw our trees and an industry was born. Within two years every cove on the Mendocino Coast had a mill. Our timber built the city of San Francisco--and rebuilt it after the 1906 earthquake.

What has this got to do with Sand Bees?

The Georgia-Pacific lumber mill here in Fort Bragg occupied 400 oceanfront acres. For decades the site was off-limits to the public. (Still is for the time-being, even though the mill itself closed a number of years ago.) This means that in spite of the massively destructive business of milling timber, there are relatively pristine areas left on that site. A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to be involved in surveying where interpret signs should be placed once it is open to the public. That was the first time I saw sand bees, and was immediately smitten. The friend I was with told me what they were, and that the female lines her underground nest with a waxy substance, and that the burrow is somehow shaped so it doesn't flood. How could you not love that little bee? So when I was trying to think of a subject for this blog, I remember those sand bees, and Googled them. The first site that came up was this one.

  How to Kill Sand Bees | & Garden 

Does it seem odd to you that, if you are the least bit curious about anything, the first thing offered up is a way to kill it? Or is it just me?

Here's more information on the Digger Bee, or Sand Bee: 


Digger Bee is a common name for a group of robust, fast-flying, ground-nesting bees with velvety fur. These bees live throughout the world. There are several thousand species, more than 900 of which occur in the United States and Canada. Digger bees visit a wide variety of flowers and are important in pollination. They are also called long-horned bees due to the exceptionally long antennae of the males.

Digger bees range from the size of a honey bee to as large as a bumble bee. These bees mostly nest in the ground and line their brood cells (compartments for offspring) with a wax-like secretion. In some species, the females construct a characteristic turret, a chimney-like extension of the nest entrance. Digger bees display very interesting nesting and foraging behavior. Many species nest in dense aggregations, and swarms of males cruise around the nesting sites searching for emerging females. In one species, the males can detect the females in the ground before they emerge. These males dig a hole into the ground where the female will emerge and then await her arrival. Other males attempt to take over and fights ensue. The largest bee usually wins.

A species of digger bee called the southeastern blueberry bee specializes on blueberry plants in its pollen-collecting. It is more efficient at pollinating these plants than honey bees or bumble bees. Another species, the pallid bee, puts on spectacular displays of mating behavior in the spring around nests in desert washes in Arizona. The Pacific sand dune bee is a digger bee that nests in coastal sand dunes in California, Oregon, and Washington. The females dig nests 0.9 m (3 ft) deep in compacted dune sand.

Scientific classification: The digger bees comprise the subfamily Anthophorinae, family Anthophoridae, order Hymenoptera. The southeastern blueberry bee is Habropoda laboriosa, the Pacific sand dune bee is Habropoda miserabilis, and the pallid bee is Centris pallida.,16877.0.html 
This by ILoveMyAnts in NJ. A really lovely man. He's got some great pictures of his digger bees.
This is a video of a female excavating her nest.