Brown-Winged Striped Sweat Bee

The brown-winged striped sweat bee (Agapostemon splendens) is another victim of Extremely Obvious Naming; it’s unfortunate that this gorgeous, metallic green bee has such a boring name. This is actually a male A. splendens; the abdomens of females are metallic green, and their tibia are furry.

Sweat bees (family Halictidae) come in a huge variety of colors and social constructs; their members include both solitary and social species as well as species whose behavior varies by time of year, geographic location, altitude and other factors. Most sweat bees are relatively small, about 7-13 mm long. They are named for their propensity for following sweaty humans around, trying to get at the salt and minerals on their skin, but sweat isn’t a primary food; most halictids are mainly interested in nectar.

Sweat bees can sting, but generally aren’t particularly aggressive unless handled roughly. Stings, if they do occur, are relatively minor.

Agapostemon splendens is a solitary ground nesting bee commonly found in Florida. There are several species of Agapostemon found in the state, but this is the only one with (as you may guess from the common name) dark brown, instead of clear, wings. The wings of male bees are generally lighter than those of females.

This is actually a species native to Florida, and it’s a beneficial pollinator of many native wildflowers! So nice to see something that isn’t invasive. They are generalists, but their favorite flowers are those in the Asteraceae and Lamiaceae (mint) families.

This handsome bee was snoozing on a flower on a chilly morning, not very disposed to movement, so I took the opportunity to grab some photos. I was so captivated by him that I only later realized there was a female green lynx spider (Peucetia viridans) creeping up on him from behind!

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