Have you ever looked into a flower and discovered a bee just sitting there? What is it doing? Why is it there if it isn’t gathering nectar or pollen? Take a closer look — is it actually asleep?!?

Female bees retreat to their nests to rest. If they are social bees like honeybees and bumble bees, that nest will be a colony or hive. Most of our native bees are solitary bees. Solitary bees don’t belong to a colony. Each female makes her own nest and stores pollen inside to feed the larvae that will hatch from her eggs, each in its own nest cell. She will shelter in her nest overnight and while resting between foraging trips.

Male bees have to rough it. They shelter at night and in the rain or cold wherever they can find cover, often right in the flowers that provide them with food. These sleepy bees provide a wonderful way to get a close look at the beauty of our native bees. You won’t hear them snoring, so you’ll have to keep a sharp lookout for them the next early morning you find yourself in a flower patch.

All photos: ©Ellen M. Silva, 2020

Was this page helpful?

Related Content from OSU Extension

Ask an Expert

Have a question? Ask an Expert!

Ask an Expert is a way for you to get answers from the Oregon State University Extension Service. We have experts in family and health, community development, food and agriculture, coastal issues, forestry, programs for young people, and gardening.