The first bees of spring! Colletes inaequalis — the Cellophane Bee

Aha!  Finally spring has sprung and the first bees are emerging.  Colletes inaequalis, the Cellophane Bee, is the first bee (that I know of) to emerge in my region.  I know where a nest site is, and I love to take photos there in early spring…despite the fact that it is adjacent to a bus stop.  As they come and go, people eye this weirdo crawling around belly in the dirt, taking photos of apparently barren patches of soil.

I’ve decided I like these larger shots showing some background as well as the macro shots.


Aw, don’t be shy…

Sometimes people at the bus stop ask me questions, and this time a particularly inquisitive student came up to ask, “Excuse me, who are you? What are you doing?” which proceeding to lead to a long discussion about research.  She said, “I was told that’s not a good idea because you can’t make any money doing research.”


“Er, I guess that depends on how you feel about money,” I replied, “I’m laying in the dirt taking photos of bees, so I’m clearly doing what I love.  I don’t care about money.”  This seemed like a novel idea to her…she was wearing designer boots and a tailored jacket.  We stared at each other across an incommunicable barrier.

This delightful bee posed perfectly for me.


But she was excited to learn about the bees, which line their nests with a plastic-y type of cellophane that they make themselves.  They are definitely cool bees, bringing people together from different worlds.




21 thoughts on “The first bees of spring! Colletes inaequalis — the Cellophane Bee

  1. I’d rather have the bees than the boots. She looks very similar to a honey bee, apart from her antennae, which seem to be thicker and knobblier. Do you know how they make the cellophane-like substance? Does it come from glands on their bodies, like how honey bees have wax glands on the underside of their abdomens?

  2. I know what you mean about the barrier between those who love money and those who love the world. I have a similar barrier within my family. It makes for interesting times! Good job, bees!

  3. Amazing and that might need to be my next task trying to identify the different bees. Some out today in UK. And in Spain lots of different kinds of wasps too. With amazing designer to die for waists if you like the anorexic look.

  4. Pingback: Migrating Salamanders 2015 | standingoutinmyfield

  5. Reblogged this on Rethorykal Questions and commented:
    Special Guest Bee: the Re-Blogged Edition!

    Polyester bees, cellophane bees!
    Little bees buzzing out to greet the warmer weather.
    Clever little chemists, fuzzy engineers,
    Ruffle up the daffodils and pollinate the heather….

  6. I’ll keep my eyes out for Colletes around here. Thanks for dropping by to ID my first Special Guest Bee of the year; usually these are followed by Mason bees and then the Colletes in my yard. But maybe I’ve not paid close enough attention..

    • In all honesty, there are probably several Lasioglossum species out before the Colletes, but they are tiny and hard to find. In my experience, the Colletes come out before the Osmia, but it could depend on where you live!

      • I would see Colletes (now that i know what to call them) first in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

  7. Pingback: Cellophane bee nests | standingoutinmyfield

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  9. Pingback: Cellophane bees | standingoutinmyfield

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