Home Animals Bees in Tennessee (13 Types With Pictures)

Bees in Tennessee (13 Types With Pictures)

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Tennessee is home to a diverse community of native bees. Various species are found all across the state, including bumblebees and mason bees, as well as leafcutters and carpenter bees. The importance of these pollinators in Tennessee’s ecosystems cannot be overstated; they play an essential role in the reproductive process of many plants, including crops and flowers. Furthermore, they also have direct economic benefits due to their ability to provide honey and wax products that can be sold or used by local industries. Despite this, many of our native bee populations are endangered due to threats like pesticide use, climate change, and habitat destruction. In this article, we will talk about various bees in Tennessee and their importance.

Bumblebees

Bees in Tennessee

Bumblebees are an incredibly important species in Tennessee. Not only do they provide essential pollination services to the local environment, helping to maintain and promote diversity among flowering plants, but they also act as a source of food for other wildlife living in the region. In addition to their incredible ecological importance, bumblebees also represent a fascinating scientific subject; they have complex social structures within their colonies and use a variety of strategies in order to survive and thrive in the wild. While bumblebees can sometimes be pesky in our backyards and gardens.

European (Western) Honey Bees

European (Western) Honey Bees

European honey bees have been integral to Tennessee’s ecosystem for decades. These hardworking, resilient insects work tirelessly to produce delicious honey and pollinate a vast array of plants, including agricultural crops that provide sustenance for folks throughout the state. While other insect species are known to pollinate, European honey bees offer the most efficient and consistent service, making them an invaluable tool in the effort to promote agricultural sustainability and food security in Tennessee. In addition to their natural processes, beekeepers also take part in managed migrations of hives to benefit honey production.

Large Carpenter Bees

Large Carpenter Bees

These bees get their name from the large nesting galleries they create when searching for suitable cavities to create nests in wooden structures, like bridges, decks and fences. While carpenter bees look very similar to bumblebees, they differ in that only the females have stingers and are able to cause harm. Fortunately, these creatures rarely sting unless provoked and instead mainly utilize their large mandibles for nest construction.

These bees can be seen during the warmer months feeding on the nectar of a variety of flowers in the region while also transferring pollen through biotic pollination which is absolutely indispensable for sustaining life in many native ecosystems across Tennessee. Large Carpenter Bees are an important species in the state of Tennessee due to their invaluable contribution to pollination.

Small Carpenter Bees

Small Carpenter Bees

Small Carpenter Bees, native to Tennessee, play an important role in maintaining the local ecosystems across the state. These tiny pollinators act as a crucial step in helping many plants reproduce, forging an essential link in nature’s cycle. Female small carpenter bees use their long pointed mouthparts to gather nectar and pollen, which they store in their furry hind legs so that they can transport it back to the nest. The pollination of plants helps encourage the growth of vegetation and flowers throughout the area.

Since agricultural production, fruit and nut cultivation specifically, greatly relies on pollinator species, small carpenter bees help provide a service that is both highly beneficial to humans as well as wildlife around them. They are capable of providing moments of wonder for lazy summer days and should be a cause of celebration throughout TN due to the importance they have on local plant life and human agriculture alike.

Long-Horned Bees

Long-Horned Bees

Tennessee is home to a wide variety of bee species, including the long-horned bee native to the area. Long-horned bees are unique among bees in that they have longer antennae than others, giving them an entirely distinct look. These impressive insects are integral to Tennessee’s ecosystem, not only serving as pollinators for many plants but also providing food for countless other animals. Although their population has become more sparse due to increasing urbanization and the use of pesticides, those who still manage to survive to serve an irreplaceable role in our environment. 

Sweat Bees

Sweat Bees

Sweat bees (Halictidae) can be found buzzing around in many places throughout Tennessee. Named for their attraction to human sweat, these tiny insects are generally harmless and even beneficial to humans. Sweat bees vary slightly in size, but most of these species measure about 8mm or smaller and collect pollen for pollination as they buzz among plants. These pollinators also play an important role in the local food chain; many animals rely on them for sustenance during particular seasons. Despite being an essential part of the natural environment, it is important to remember that it is best not to touch sweat bees since they may sting if handled inappropriately.

Squash Bees

Squash Bees

Squash bees in Tennessee are a marvel of nature. These incredible insects, native to the United States, work diligently to pollinate summer squash and pumpkins. Squash bees live in large aggregations, making their buzzing hum easily heard around gardens and farms in certain parts of the state. When collecting pollen from plants, the bees not only benefit from rewarding sugary nectar but also their own survival as they bring food back to the larvae waiting at home in the hive or burrow. With a lifespan of about four weeks during peak season and no stingers – so even humans don’t have to worry about them.

Digger Bees

Digger Bees

Digger bees in Tennessee despite the small size of their habitats and low population numbers, play a surprisingly significant role in the local ecosystem. This native species can be seen throughout much of the state, where they spend their time nestling amongst wildflowers, shrubs and woody vegetation. During summer months, these efficient pollinators help to maintain healthy plants by transferring valuable pollen from one flower to another; as a result, they are responsible for assisting a myriad of plant species in producing high-quality fruits. Furthermore, their ability to improve soil quality further reinforces their importance in sustaining local ecosystems. 

Polyester Bees

Polyester Bees

Polyester Bees residing in the rolling hills and lush meadows of Tennessee, Is an unlikely creature that has taken up residence. a predominantly black and yellow striped species of bumblebee, have been spotted across the state. These bees are unique not only in their vibrant colouration but also in their tolerance for colder temperatures. While other bees struggle to survive frigid winters, Polyester Bees don’t seem fazed no matter how low the temperatures dip. Operating throughout all four seasons, these creatures can be hard to spot as they expertly weave through flowerbeds and down woodland pathways.

Masked Bees

Masked Bees

Masked bees have recently been spotted in Tennessee! This unusual and mysterious species of bee has the unique trait of wearing a “mask” to protect its vision from dust and pollen. Members of this species are known for their yellow and black stripes, as well as long antennae that help them navigate through their environment. While these fascinating masked bees appear to be a welcome addition to Tennessee, further study is needed to understand the potential impact they could have on the native bee population.

Cuckoo Bees 

Cuckoo Bees

Cuckoo Bees are something of a mystery in Tennessee. Found throughout the state, these solitary invertebrates specialize in parasitizing other bees and have evolved numerous physiological adaptations to help them do so. Their fur-like coats make them almost invisible to many other species and they’ve even become adept at breaking into others’ nests, laying their eggs there unobtrusively.

Mason Bees

Mason Bees

Mason Bees are remarkable insects found in Tennessee and other parts of the U.S. Not only are Mason Bees attractive and fascinating to watch, but they also play an important role in the environment. These solitary bees act as pollinators, aiding in the process of plant reproduction and consequently helping sustain our ecosystem. Unlike most bee species, Mason Bees are not aggressive or dangerous—they don’t sting! With their help, farmers and gardeners can ensure a strong crop yield each season. 

Leaf Cutter Bees

Leaf Cutter Bees

Leaf Cutter Bees are among the most industrious of insect species, and they are indeed essential contributors to Tennessee’s ecosystem. Though small in size, often measuring only about 7 millimetres in length, these bees play an enormous role in maintaining local vegetation, pollinating flowers and ultimately ensuring that fruit-bearing plants remain healthy and productive. They derive their name from their habit of cutting out shapes from leaves in order to construct their own nesting burrows; this labour-intensive process results in gleaming squares and circles that can sometimes be seen on trees all around the Volunteer state. Leaf Cutter 

Miner Bees

Miner Bees

As their name implies, miner bees spend a large amount of time underground creating holes to build nests where they lay eggs that eventually become young miner bees themselves. In the summer months, they often surface and can be found burrowing through the flowers along roadsides, parks, wildflowers, and gardens. Their flying styles usually involve left s-shaped patterns as they hover from one flower to another, which adds to their allure along with the eyespots on their abdomen. 

References:

https://www.tn.gov/agriculture/businesses/bees.html
https://epp.tennessee.edu/2021/06/22/npw-21-bees-of-tennessee/
https://tnstateparks.com/blog/the-bees-of-early-spring
https://tnwf.org/nature-note-native-be
es/

Author Profile
Jeevan Kodiyan
Zoologist | Wildlife Conservation at Animals Research

An animal enthusiast with an interest in zoology, studying the behavior and activities of animals in the wild habitat. I work on research projects related to species conservation and endangered species protection. I also leverage zoology to become an educator, educating others about the importance of protecting our natural environment and the beauty of animals in their natural habitats.

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