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Metallic green bee

I finally got a photo of a metallic green bee. It turns out these bees are a wee bit camera shy and it took a lot of persistence to get this one to pose. This bee is mostly likely in the genus Agapostemon in the family Halictidae. Even though the 44 species of Agapostemon are in the sweat bee family, they are not attracted to human sweat, and instead of hanging around humans, they tend to shy away.

The short-tongued Agapostemon are native to North and South America. Although they forage from a wide range of plants, they are frequently seen on composite flowers such as daisies and dandelions. Most species are solitary ground-dwellers. In some species several females will share a common tunnel entrance and post a single guard outside, but inside the burrow, each female builds and maintains her own nest.

The bees appear green or blue, depending on how the light reflects from their bodies. All species have a green or blue head and thorax, and sometimes the females have a similarly colored abdomen. Other females and most males have a yellow and black (or white and black) striped abdomen. The females carry pollen in the dense hairs that cover their hind legs. These medium-sized bees range from about 0.3 to 0.6 inches long.


Green metallic bee found in Olympia. © Rusty Burlew.


Mary Powers

Beautiful, like the peacock of the bee world! Apparently I’ve had a very narrow view of what a bee is: if it wasn’t a honeybee or a bumblebee than it was a wasp/hornet (to me). I have definitely had my eyes opened to the world of “Bees, other” since finding this website. Thanks, Rusty, for your always gorgeous photography and your efforts to enlighten us to the hidden realm all around us.



I like that: “Bees, other.”


Mary, I agree with you. I wouldn’t have known this was a bee just by looking. I, too, am becoming educated since I found this site only two days ago.


I just saw one of these for the first time a week ago and started to look up info on them. Funny what you start looking at once you start to work with bees.

Glen Buschmann

Rusty –
MANY of us are grateful for your skilled and persistent use of your eyes and camera optics.


What a beauty. Glad you were able to find and share her.

Pam Phillips

Agapostemon are my favorites! So beautiful.

Anna S.

That is a very pretty bee 🙂 I agree with Mary — I, too, have been paying more attention to all bees since I have come across your website. I am trying to educate others, too.


Finally the grand glam shot. 🙂
Congrats on getting that one off the bucket-list!!

Kent, WA



Yes, well, you have me pegged. I am pretty much obsessed with these creatures. I’d like to have an outfit like that; I could look like a flaming tranny.

David H.

I think I just saw one of these the other day. The wife and I were walking our dog, and I saw it from about 20 feet away. I stopped to look at it, and I literally thought to myself, “Why is that fly dancing around on that flower?”

Who knew?

Thanks for the insight, Rusty! I love everything you write.



Never seen or heard of them, would have thought that is some type of wasp.


Am visiting near Miami and just saw my first metallic green bee. I live in Texas. Are they found there?



There are many different species of metallic green bees. The species vary from place to place, but overall they are found throughout North and Central America. There are some in South America as well.


I saw one of these green bees today in Bradenton, Florida. First one I have ever seen. She was very metallic and very bright green! Thanks for all the info.



They are so beautiful!


I have one in my front yard! And I kept seeing something peeking out of this ant hill, I thought, and pop back in whenever I moved so I sat and got a pic of it but when it came fully out I was so shocked that it was a bee I forgot to take a picture of its full body! I’m petrified of bees so I was happy to look this up and find out they are not interested in humans. I’ll leave him bee. 🙂


My daughter and I had never seen one of these before about 2 weeks ago. We were out in the backyard and I noticed these small insects with an odd flying pattern and a very unique color. We have been watching them build their small volcano shaped nest next to the edge of our patio. They are beautiful and entertaining. At first sight I could not determine whether it was a type of fly or bee. So glad to have found this info, thank you. We are learning so much about them!


Also, we are in southwest Washington, just over the bridge from Portland, Oregon. The nest in our yard consists of 3 bees that fly in and out repeatedly, one after another, always together.



I’m glad you are enjoying them. I think they are so interesting and pretty.


Does anyone know if I should worry about water getting on their hole? It’s in the ground where I usually water the lawn and I’ve been trying to avoid it…but then I thought maybe they need it? Idk what to do…



Bees live in the ground. It rains, snows, sleets, hails, floods, etc. They know what to do. Just water as usual; they are expecting it if that is what they are used to.


I have my first metallic bee as we speak in my back yard burrowing. Live in Portland and have never seen one here in all of my 58 years.



Congratulations on seeing one! Are they not beautiful?


I have seen my first metallic green bee and it looked like a bee but I was not sure because some flies like to mimic bees. This one is building a nest inside my handrail on my back porch. I will try to photo her if and when I ever see her again. So bright, shiny and all over her body green.


I found one of these in my house in Port Isabel Texas. I caught and released it, it was a beautiful bee.


I live in Florida. Just had what appeared to be a green honey bee land on me while I was checking him out so I googled it. They’re called green orchid bees. He was all alone, flew off, and went on his way. I’m wearing camo shirt that’s what he landed on. I’ve seen many in Mulberry, Florida. First one I’ve seen in Homosassa, Florida. They are butterflies of the bees.



Euglossa dilemma, the green orchid bee, was first discovered in Florida in 2003. They are originally from Central America, and I hear they are quite beautiful.


I just found one of these on my pants leg yesterday. Luckily I had my phone handy and got 2 very good clear pictures of it. I live in north western Wisconsin and don’t think I’ve ever seen one of these before. Very beautiful – I’ll be on the lookout for more!


I found one of these bee’s today 8/30/16. I have never even heard of them before and obviously this was the first time I have ever seen one. I am in North Dakota so this bee is very far from where its origins. He seemed very docile and held very still when I took its picture, they are beautiful.

Lisa Robinson

Try wearing moccasins for sneaking up on shy bees. Just learned that tip this week.

Have you seen metallic wasps too? I had a bright blue one similar in shape to this bee. It too, was shy so my photo is not quite in focus.

I have Agapostemons with green head and thorax but yellow striped abdomens–a rather unusual combination of colors!



Yes, I have many metallic wasps as well as the tri-colored Agapostemon.

William k

Was at a friend’s house today and his wife put in some new flowers a few months back, now they have what seems like hundreds of them. They do not cause any problems and tend to move when you come close, they seem to be pretty relaxed and pose no real threat. Neat to look at and they are really fast. I am in Jacksonville Florida. Also not they seem to like staying around the flowers which are closest to their swimming pool.