Pollinator Week – Bee Discoveries

During pollinator week (June 20 -24), I spent time hunting for native bees in the South Carolina Botanical Garden. Native bees are powerhouse pollinators and of critical importance to plant life and our food supply. Over 4000 species are native to North America, with perhaps a thousand active in the Southeast, still a rather daunting number! But you must begin somewhere, so I set out with my camera to see who was in the garden!

Identifying which bees were in the garden was a challenge. I already knew to differentiate carpenter bees from bumble bees by a shiny versus hairy abdomen, but which bumble bee was I seeing? And those medium-sized and tiny bees, who were they? Bee identification proves to be an immensely challenging quest! I used the iNaturalist app to help begin to identify the bees visiting our flowers and submitted questions to some Facebook bee groups, both with some success. Although I don’t have firm identifications for all my bee sightings, paying more attention gave me a huge appreciation for bee diversity. Here are some of the bees I found actively foraging in the South Carolina Botanical Garden.

  • Carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica) visiting a passion vine flower (Passiflora incarnata).
    Carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica) visiting a passion vine flower (Passiflora incarnata). Sue Watts, ©2022, South Carolina Botanical Garden


  1. HGIC 1727, Pollinator Gardening
  2. iNaturalist app download
  3. Native Bees of North America Facebook page
  4. USDA Bee Basics: An Introduction to Our Native Bees

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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