Home of the Tickle Bees!
The Andrena bee (family Andrenidae), are also known as "mining bee", "digger bee", and "solitary bee". Many species are medium-sized bees with reddish-golden hair and long, prominent abdomens. Females excavate tunnels in the soil that branch off to individual cells that the female stocks with pollen balls and nectar, on which she lays her eggs. There may be one or two generations per year. The adult has a relatively short and pointed “tongue,” unsuitable for general foraging but, within each species, adapted to nectar-gathering from certain types of flowers.
Andrena bees dig holes in the ground to provide a safe nesting place where they can lay their eggs and the young bees can develop before emerging the following year. Unlike honey bees or most bumblebees, Andrena species are solitary and work on their own to build a nest and collect pollen for the young to feed on, but there might be many nests concentrated in a small area, giving the impression of colonial activity. Male Andrena bee is much smaller than the females counterpart, and not as brightly colored, they play no part in nest building or providing for their offspring.
As the name "Tickle Bee" (bestowed upon them by our own Sabin School students) suggests, Andrena bees are totally harmless and will not sting. In fact, they are incredibly useful pollinators in the garden. Their nests will not damage the lawn and the little earth mounds will disappear after a couple of weeks, so there is no need to remove them or try to discourage these lovely little bees... Simply enjoy them!
Sabin's Tickle Bees in the News:
"Portland's Sabin schoolyard abuzz": Oregonlive 05/03/2010
"Bring Back the Pollinators": Winged: New Writings on Bees 11/21/2013
"It's the bee's needs, and Sabin has it!": Portland Tribune 02/20/2014
"Go Green: Sabin School Tickle Bees": KATU News (VIDEO) 04/19/2014