There are more than 800 species of bees found in Texas. They are classified into 6 families. 

  • Apidae - bumble bees, honey bees, carpenter bees and orchid bees
  • Andrenidae - mining bees
  • Colletidae - cellophane bees, polyester bees and plasterer bees
  • Halictidae - sweat bees
  • Megachilidae - leafcutter bees
  • Melittidae - plant oil collecting bees

Over 700 of these species are native to Texas and provide essential pollinator services to native plants as well as fruit, vegetable, and nut crop species.  Over 90% of Texas's native bees are solitary species. These nests are established and provisioned by a single female bee.  They typically nest in the ground or in dead woody material. Generally, these bees are harmless. They will only sting when handled roughly or if there is a threat to them.

Ground nesting bees prefer open sparsely vegetated areas providing access to bare ground. These bees burrow into the ground to build their nest. The nest site is easy to identify because of the conical pile of dirt with a large entrance hole in the middle. Even though each female builds her own nest, many females may build their nests next to each other. These bees are most active during the spring when the males are looking for mates. Many of these bees can be found in your back yard and are important pollinators for your garden. 

Ground Nesting Bee examples

  • Digger Bee – Anthophora capistrata
  • Dark-Faced or Mournful Long horned Bee – Melissodes tristis
  • Smooth-Faced Miner Bee or Miserable Andrena – Andrena miserabilis
  • Texas Cellophane Bee – Colletes texanus
  • Sunflower Bee – Svastra obliqua
  • Honey-Tailed Striped Sweat Bee – Agapostemon melliventris
  • Chimney Bee - Diadasia rinconis

Cavity nesting bees use their mouth parts to carve holes in soft wood or use holes left by insects in dead trees, stumps, downed logs or pithy hollow stems. These bees can be found in rock crevices or even snail shells.

Cavity Nesting Bee examples

  • Leafcutter Bee – Megachile chomskyi
  • Southern Carpenter Bees – Xylocopa micans.
  • Texas Small Carpenter Bees – Ceratina texana
  • Blue Orchard Mason Bee – Osmia lignaria

Of all the native bees, Bumble bees are the most recognizable. They are an important pollinator to agricultural crops and contribute to the pollination of hundreds of flowering native plants. Bumble bees, with a few exceptions, are a social species. During the spring, an individual queen establishes a nest in or on the ground in tufts of grass or abandoned rodent burrows. After the queen establishes her nest she lays eggs which develop into worker bees. She relies on these “daughter” bees to forage for nectar and pollen, care for developing larvae and defend the colony. A bumble bee colony may contain up to 200 or more workers. The bumble bee colony generally lasts from the spring until late summer or early fall. The founding queen and all her workers perish as flowers diminish and temperatures drop leaving only the hibernating queens to start the cycle again.

There are 55 species of Bumble bees in the US however only 9 have been identified in Texas.