Posted by: buzzybeegirl | October 11, 2010

Boy, girl, boy, bee

In a previous post I had talked about how you can tell the difference between male and female bees. Yes, male and female bees look different from each other. There are certain physical characteristics that you can use to tell them apart.

One characteristic was a bee-rd (thanks Dennis!) or a bees version of facial hair. Bees that have hair on their clypeus are males. Here…I will show you what I mean.


Osmia lignaria males & females in nests (Photo by Ruben Alarcon)


Do you see the difference between the bees in the above photograph? They are the same species or type of bees, the Blue Orchard Bee (Osmia lignaria), only the males have tiny white beards. The females lack facial hair.

Another characteristic that can be used to tell males from females is size. With bees, the female is larger than the male. Even though males are smaller, they can still grab a female and take her down during mating. Here is a photo of a male and female bee mating. The larger female is on the bottom with the smaller male on top.

Blue Orchard Bees (Osmia lignaria) mating

So there you have it…co-ed bees.




  1. How interesting! Except I can’t see the hair as a beard. Maybe a mustache?

    Carpenter bees are about the only bees I can easily spot males. The bright spot on their faces doesn’t look very hairy to me, though.

    I think I’ve seen a light spot on bumblebees, but they usually move too quick for me to get a close photo.

  2. If this post were a rap album it would be called “Doin’ It Buzzy Style”. 🙂

  3. On this day of Thanksgiving, I offer my gratitude that these wonderful bees like to mate, so that they can continue doing their awesome calling in life of perpetuating the pollination of the plant world….

    Bees are nice creatures to give thanks for!!! 🙂

  4. To Whom It May Concern.

    I’m writing you, in response to your blog I happened to come across. Im writing a five page term paper for my soil science class, and would like to know if you could recommend any articles or resources on what California native plants are best for insectary/bee forage in San Diego. I’m hoping to find some info on the use of native pollinator plants to aid in the restoration of the honey bee and native bee population. My intention, is to combine the non-use of pesticides and in-organic fertilizers, along with native vegetation to show how we can help to restore a sense of balance between us and the bees. I am so interested and concerned about the fate of the bees. If you feel there is enough here to write a five page paper and you could help in any way, I would be very grateful!

    Thank you.


    • Hi Steve, thanks for visiting. I do have some references, but can’t remember the full titles. I will check them at home and send you the information. Please feel free to e-mail me with any questions:

  5. Bee’rd. Do they also have tiny electric shavers?

  6. […] 2. They Don’t Bring Home the Bacon Female bees spend much of their adult lives collecting pollen for their offspring. Since males do not provide for their young, they have no need to carry pollen with them. Therefore, they do not have pollen carrying structures, such as long hairs on the legs, that females have. If you see a large orange or yellow blob on the hind legs or bottom of the abdomen, you are probably looking at a hardworking female and not a barhopping male. 3. Their Straggly, Bearded Appearance Males are, in general, smaller, longer, and narrower than females. Their antennae are also longer; an extreme example would be the longhorn bee. They are often described as having a rangy, scraggly-looking appearance. In many cases, males have white faces, known as “beards,” that females lack. For more information, check out this informative post at Anna’s Bee World: […]

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