In lieu of National Pollinator Week, we would like to bring chimney bees, a wonderful little pollinator, to the spotlight!
Chimney bees (Anthophora abrupta) are in the same family as bumblebees and could be easily mistaken for them. The biggest visible difference is that they don’t have pollen baskets on their legs and instead have pollen brushes. Chimney bees are also solitary, while bumblebees are social. However, chimney bees do nest in dense aggregations that can sometimes grow to large sizes. These aggregations are like apartment complexes where each bee has her own nest, and they do not cooperate in the care or construction of other nests but are all in a small area. They make interesting homes with tubes made out of mud, which is where they get the common name “chimney bees”. These individual mud nest cells are then filled with a mixture of pollen and nectar that ferments, leading to a decidedly cheesy smell. The female lays an egg in the nest cell, which hatches into a larva that swims around in its pollen food, eating until it gets big enough to pupate. Chimney bees have a lot of nest associates, some of which are parasites, while others are harmless. Chimney bees are capable of stinging, but will not defend their nests and are perfectly harmless. Dr. Laura Russo, one of our experts in pollinator research, has sat in their aggregations for hours on end while taking photos and never been stung by this species.
Stay tuned for more pollinator content! 🐝
EDIT: The “chimney bees” in the videos are actually mining bees