Yes, the Blue Orchard Bee Exists—and It’s Not the Only Blue Bee
To spot a blue orchard bee, head to Florida.
For people who love bees, there’s no better neighbor. I’ve seen people who set up a bee watering station to keep the insects hydrated and happy. But even friends of the bees might be surprised to know that there are over 20,000 kinds of bees in the world, and 4,000 of them are native to the United States.
That’s a lot of bees, which means we shouldn’t be surprised that there really are blue bees out there. It might seem like a photoshopped picture that went viral, but insects like blue orchard bees are a real thing, and some blue bees are even native to North America.
Blue Orchard Bees
You might be able to tell from their name, but blue orchard bees really like to hang around fruit trees. Unlike their yellow, fuzzy brethren, these insects are a metallic blue, though the color may differ slightly between males and females. These blue-hued bees are more efficient at pollination than any regular honeybee, says the U.S. Forest Service, especially when it comes to a number of fruit trees.
The way these types of bees work differs as well. Honeybees—those striped yellow and brown pollinators we’re all familiar with—work as a hive. Blue orchard bees, or osmia lignaria, tend to work alone but enjoy the company of other bees. They’re native to the U.S. and Canada, but may not be found in every state thanks to temperature changes—these guys need lower foraging temps, according to the USDA. They’re found in Florida and parts of the southeastern Gulf Coast, according to the University of Florida.
Learn how to grow fruit trees in your backyard.
Blue Calamintha Bees
Blue calamintha bees are named for their food source of choice: flowers of Ashe’s calamint. This metallic navy insect is known for its unique way of collecting pollen, which involves bobbing its head up and down, causing the pollen to be released onto facial hairs that collect it. This method, noted by the University of Florida, has never been seen in any other insect.
In 2020, these bees made headlines when they were rediscovered in Florida after having thought to be extinct. According to CNN, the bee was last seen four years before the rediscovery, and its presence was restricted to just four areas at Central Florida’s Lake Wiles Ridge, though they’ve now been spotted in seven new areas. Like the blue orchard bees, these bees, also known as osmia calaminthae, are solitary critters.
Blue Carpenter Bees
Blue carpenter bees make their homes in the wood of trees rather than in hives. The bright cerulean critters make honey like other bees, but unlike the honey you might be used to, theirs has a consistency similar to peanut butter or cookie dough.
You can find these pretty blue bees throughout Southeast Asia, India and Southern China, according to Australian Geographic. Like the other blue bees, xylocopa caerulea are solitary creatures that prefer their own company to living in hives.
Next Up: Learn how you can help save the bees.