Cloudy-winged mining bee (Andrena nubecula) is a sure sign of fall. This dark slender mining bee is primarily found on goldenrods in old fields, meadows, and suburban gardens adjacent to forests. Look for a medium-sized bee, with smoky wings held out at an angle, and armpits full of orange goldenrod pollen. Luckily, there are few other bees in the region that resemble A. nubecula, and none nearly as common.
Late-summer and fall, August and September. One generation per year.
Throughout northeast, from Virginia to southern Canada. Can be common in places, especially gardens, with goldenrod along forest edges, but never abundant.
Size < honey bee
Females: black with off-white bands on T2-T5; n band on T1; pale foveae with fringe of pale whitish hairs encircling the thorax; dark, smoky wings held out at an angle. Females often seen carrying orange goldenrod pollen high up in their “armpits” (where the hindlegs meet the thorax).
Males: encountered much less frequently than females, like females, but more slender, with thick brush of hairs on face, often hold their wings out while foraging.
- A. canadensis is similar but has clear wings. A. canadensis is reported much less often than A. nubecula, and seemingly is not found in garden habitats.
- A. robervalensis is overall darker with dark foveae, dark hairs around thorax and on the end of the abdomen, and a general preference for wood asters over goldenrod.
Nests unknown from the subgenus Cnemidandrena in North America. Seems to be associated with forests and forest edges, but also occurs in more disturbed habitats like gardens and roadsides.
Almost always on goldenrods (Solidago spp.). Females usually seen singly on goldenrods in meadows, but can be concentrated in greater numbers (both males and females) on plants along forest edges, including gardens and backyards.
Nesting biology unknown, so no known nest parasites.
Page last updated:
February 22, 2023