The Black Bee: The Two-Spotted Longhorn Bees

My Favorite Native Bee: The Two-Spotted Longhorn Bee (Melissodes Bimaculata)

The All Black Bee

The all black Two-Spotted Longhorn Bees finally caught my attention in the summer of 2010. These all black bees are docile and are my favorite Ohio native bee. Their absence from my pollinator gardens prior to 2010 leads me to believe that the additional flowers to support long-tongued bees finally paid off and brought them here. I couldn't be happier!

Observing Melissodes Bimaculatus

From observation, their preferred native plants for food are Bee Balm, Cone Flowers, and Yarrow. Their favorite annual flowers are: Salvia, Mealy Sage, Calendula, Zinnia,  Dragonhead Balm and their most favorite (as well as mine) - Moss Rose!

They appear to be solitary and nest in the ground as I've watched them dig down and disappear into a hole in the lawns, not so much in the open dirt areas that mining bees use.

Defying the solitary nature of the nests -- they weirdly congregate to sleep and preen themselves in large groups on stems of certain tall grasses and plants like the edible mums like video 3 shown above. This behavior leads me to think those bees are males. Congregation like this has only appeared in late summer to fall more closely to October.

The leg hairs on these bees are either a golden yellow brownish color or much closer to white. My observations show that the whiter leg hairs appear only on bees much smaller in size compared to the golden leg-haired bees. I'm not a scientist and am still trying to figure out how to differentiate sexes in the this bee species. It appears as though the leg hairs either correlate with sex or age of the bee. Possibly, the bees with whiter legs would be younger bees or possibly male bees- leaving the larger bees with golden leg hairs to be female?  The congregating bees have an obvious absence of the smaller, whiter leg-haired bees in the group.

Minimal information can be found on these bees and that has left me to learn from my own observation and my own data collection.

I hope you will look for this bee in your pollinator gardens, as it holds a special place in my heart. You will enjoy its company and maybe we can compare data!