Orange-legged furrow bee (Halictus rubicundus) is among one of most widespread bee species in the world, occurring frequently in human-disturbed areas. A medium, boldly-striped sweat bee, this species forages on a variety of flowers, though it is generally not encountered as frequently as its more abundant relatives H. ligatus/poeyi. This is not a distinctive bee—its legs are not particularly orange either—but can be easily identified from photographs.
Active from early spring (March/April) through late fall (October/November); two new generations per year in social nests, one new generation per year in solitary nests.
Widespread. Globally, H. rubicundus is holarctic, with populations found across North America north of Mexico, as well as throughout Europe and northern parts of Asia.
Size < honey bee
Males: small and dark with antennae that are completely dark; yellow-orange legs and mostly yellow clypeus; tergites with distinct hair bands on the rims;
Females: somewhat generic-looking medium-sized sweat bee; dark overall with bold, pale hair bands on rims of tergites; legs mostly dark, but with orange tarsi (“ankles”)
- Female Halictus ligatus/poeyi have a broad cheek and a distinctive genal tooth.
- Female H. parallelus are much larger and typically much less common. H. parallelus are typically not found in disturbed habitats like H. rubicundus.
- Males of Halictus ligatus/poeyi and H. parallelus have bi-colored antennae (dark above and pale/orange pattern).
- Both males and females can be distinguished from some Lasioglossum sensu stricto by apical hair bands on the rims of their tergites rather than from the hairs arising from beneath the overhanging segment.
Ground-nesting, often in hard-packed soils. Known to nest alongside humans, including in landscaping pebbles.
No cleptoparasitic bees are known to parasitize H. rubicundus in eastern U.S. Anthomyiid fly larvae (Leucophora spp.) have been reported from nests.
Cane, J.H. 2015. Landscaping pebbles attract nesting by the native ground-nesting bee Halictus rubicundus (Hymenoptera: Halictidae). Apidologie. 46: 728-734.
Page last updated:
January 17, 2023