Bee (Native) Genus Leioproctus
Common name: Hairy colletid bees
Leioproctus bees are the most commonly seen native bees comprising of 18 species.
These bees are robust and hairy, looking similar to honeybees but smaller (5–12 millimetres long).
All are black except for the South Island species Leioproctus fulvescens, which is covered with dense orange-yellow hair. They are often seen in summer carrying pollen on their back legs, like honeybees and bumblebees. These bees dig tunnels. A small pile of soil is the usual sign of individual nest tunnels which can be as long as half a meter, often branched, with terminal oval nesting chambers. Females dig these tunnels all by themselves. In the chamber, they lay just one single egg and provision the nursery with a ball of compacted pollen and some nectar, which is the perfect food for its baby grub that hatches from that egg. The entrance to the tunnel is sealed, so the grubs can develop as undisturbed as possible. The bee grubs develop from egg to pre-pupa within perhaps two weeks, after which they enter diapause and hatch as adult bees the next spring. Usually, there are dozens and dozens of individual tunnels, made by solitary bees, but in the configuration of a loosely bonded colony. Each species prefers a specific type of soil. For example, Leioproctus fulvescens needs fine-grained soil, while Leioproctus metallicus nests in coastal sand. This also means that for most of the year the presence of these native bee breeding grounds is not very obvious at all.
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