Genus Andrena (Andrenidae)

Andrena species are relatively cold tolerant,
hence their geographic range extends far north into British Columbia, and they are among the first bees to become active in early spring. They often emerge and mate before the last frost and dig their tubular nests in sandy soil. Andrena are buzz pollinators; their name is derived from the Greek word anthrene, meaning a buzzing insect.

Andrena melanochroa
An all-black miner bee with slightly
paler hair on its thorax, here seen
resting in tall grass on a cold windy
spring day.

Andrena are distinguished by deep grooves or fovea between the eyes and antennae, which can be seen clearly in this close-up of an Andrena vicina from American Camp, San Juan Island.

Andrena crataegi
A large black bee with a halo of fine
pale hair around its thorax and face
but a bald, shiny black abdomen.
Andrena astragali
This large brown bee is a specialist on Death Camas, and often digs its nests in patches of this showy wildflower.

Andrena frigida

The round, short face of this dainty light-colored miner bee is typical of the Andrenidae. Other bee families have longer, more oblong faces.

Andrena rufosignata
A dark colored bee with fine reddish
brown hair. Unlike A. astragali it has only very sparse hair on its abdomen.

Andrena buckelli
A small black bee with a pale hairy
“backpack,” seen here on the stem of a Chocolate Lily. Many Andrena species have a densely hairy thorax for collecting pollen when plunging
headfirst into large flowers.

Andrena vicina
Widely seen in dry island wildflower
meadows in the spring, this bee has
a light-colored fuzzy “backpack” as well as dense hairs on its hind legs for collecting pollen.