Confusing furrow bee (Halictus confusus) is distinctive among backyard Halictus for its dark metallic coloration. H. confusus frequents a variety of habitats, including gardens. As such, H. confusus can easily be confused with other garden bees. More often than not, the confusing lookalikes are actually metallic Lasioglossum, not other Halictus (which have matte integument). To separate out H. confusus, look for doubled hair bands on the abdomen.
Active from April through October in the northeast. Often eusocial.
Size << honey bee
Males: metallic body color; very long, bicolored antennae; orange front femur
Females: subdued metallic greenish color, abdomen with diffuse double-white bands on either side of abdomen with the most pronounced bands on the bottom of the preceding segment overhanging the subsequent segment.
Straightforward to separate from other Halictus species—it’s the only metallic Halitcus in our region.
Easily confused with Lasioglossum (Dialictus), which are often similarly small and metallic. Dialictus have single (never double) basal hair bands on abdomen and bands are never particularly bold.
Nests are typically built in bare, compact soils in disturbed areas, and can be aggregated. Nesting is discouraged by thick ground vegetation.
Exhibits a range of social behaviors, from solitary to eusocial. Fertilized females overwinter in their natal nest, and emerge in late-spring to start nests alone. . One to two generations of worker females are produced before males and new gynes are produced in late-summer.
Highly polylectic. Visits many different plants, including clovers (Trifolium), redbud (Cercis canadensis,) , blackberry (Rubus, spring beauty (Claytonia), and apple (Malus).
Hosts rhipiphorid beetles Rhipiphorus walshi and conopid fly Theocophora sp.
Dolphin, R.E. 1966. The ecological life history of Halictus (Seladonia) confusus, Smith (Hymenoptera: Halictidae). Purdue University ProQuest Dissertation: 6613183.
Richards, M. H., Vickruck, J. L., Rehan, S. M. 2010. Colony social organisation of Halictus confusus in southern Ontario, with comments on sociality in the subgenus Halictus (Seladonia). J. Hymen. Res., 19: 144-158.
Page last updated:
January 17, 2023