Scientific name: Hoplitis (Hoplitis fulgida, Hoplitis albifrons, Hoplitis spoliata)
Common name: Mason bees
Nest type: Chewed leaves with pebbles cemented into the mixture
Size: 3/8″ to 1/2″ (elongate)
Nest tunnels used: 3/16” to 1/4”
Looks like: H. fulgida is metallic blue-green; H. albifrons is jet black; H. spoliata is a smaller black/grey bee
I know, I know. You’re probably thinking that you’ve got deja vu and are seeing Osmia lignaria again—metallic, blue-green mason bees are pretty unique! Don’t worry, you’re not crazy, and we’re not lazy. Hoplitis fulgida and Osmia lignaria don’t just look alike. They, and all other members of the genus Hoplitis, also share a solitary life style and some nest plug construction habits. Despite the similarities to the Blue Orchard Bee, Hoplitis fulgida is a different species and is one of almost a thousand bee species native to Colorado.
Its cousins H. spoliata and H. albifrons are less glitzy looking but no less interesting. You’ll find them flitting around everything from Frageria (strawberry) flowers to Rosa (roses) and Taraxacum (dandelions). There aren’t many of these lovelies in low elevations, but once you reach 6,000 ft., you’ve got a good chance of catching a glimpse of them all the way up to 10,000 ft.
DID YOU KNOW: Everything you thought you knew about Queen Bees is wrong…or at least, doesn’t apply to Hoplitis albifrons. This species lacks a worker caste and both male and female bees are found in equal numbers.