Elusive Blue Bees Found In Florida

Posted by Beth Watson on

Elusive Blue Bees Found In Florida

So today I was going to talk to you about the difference between Palmetto Bugs and cockroaches, & the importance of them in our ecosystem. But a little news article out of Florida caught my eye about Osmia calaminthae that seemed it might be a little more important.

Also known as the Blue Calimintha Bee, this is a previously thought to be extinct species that has been rediscovered recently in Florida, USA. The last time this particular species was seen was approximately 4 years ago. Habitat destruction due to development & pesticide drift are the top reasons O. calaminthae is considered Critically Imperiled.

The name "calaminthae" is Latin for mint, because the presumed pollen host for the bee is Calamintha ashei, commonly known as Ashe's mint: a brushy, flowering shrub native to Florida and Georgia. The bees are of the family Megachilidae, commonly known as mason bees. Mason bees are named for their habit of using mud or other "masonry" products in constructing their nests, which are made in naturally occurring gaps, such as between cracks in stones or other small dark cavities. 

These little guys & gals have a funny behavioral habit that has been helpful to scientists in identifying them; they collect pollen on their faces! By rubbing their heads on the top portion of the Ashe's mint flowers, they're able to collect pollen on small facial hairs, specialized for that purpose.

Unfortunately, volunteer help with conservation of habitats has had to come to a halt due to the pandemic. Scientists are still out there, though, searching for ways to help save these endangered shiny blue bees.

If you'd like to learn more about the petition started to have this species listed as  "At Risk" by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and to have them protected under the Endangered Species Act, check out this link-

https://www.fws.gov/southeast/endangered-species-act/90-day-finding/september-2015-batch/

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