Frigid mining bee (Andrena frigida) is a common, early-spring bee species found throughout deciduous forests of the northeast. Both male and female A. frigida are easily recognized by the long, messy, white hairs all over their bodies. Males are quick to land on objects like bark, clothing, and plastic toys to warm themselves, and they are also known to lick tree sap in the absence of flowers.
Mid-March through May (with scattered records into summer). One of the earliest bees active in the year; few other large Andrena fly as early as A. frigida. One generation per year.
Widespread throughout eastern North America, particularly in northern latitudes. Common but never very abundant.
Size < honey bee
Females: short face with white hairs on face; thin, messy, dusty-looking ghost-white hairs over body, hairy abdominal bands gives a “halo” or glowing effect, white hairs are often in sharp contrast to bright-yellow pollen in scopae
Males: much like female, but with long messy white hairs, especially on T1, and all black hind legs.
- Females are unlikely to be confused with other Andrena in the early part of its flight season. Other Andrena [Andrena], like A. mandibularis and A. tridens, are similar, but lack the same disheveled appearance, with less hair on the abdomen.
- Often co-occurs with Colletes inaequalis, but C. inaequalis has convergent eye margins and a smooth (not hairy), boldly banded abdomen
A. frigida nests have not yet been described, but females likely nest below ground in sandy soils near their Salix host plants.
Forages for pollen from early-spring shrubby willows (e.g. Salix discolor, S. humilis), but known to nectar from a variety of other plants including maples (Acer spp.) and plums and cherries (Prunus spp.). Records from early to mid-summer of A. frigida likely represent pollen foraging on a small subset of later blooming willows, e.g. Salix nigra.
No known parasites, likely because so little is known about its nesting biology.
Ostaff, D.P. et al. 2015. Willows (Salix spp.) as pollen and nectar sources for sustaining fruit and berry pollinating insects. Can. J. Plant Sci. 95:505-516.
Page last updated:
February 22, 2023