|Euglossa viridissima, an exotic bee.|
Poking around Cape Florida last Friday, I came across a
|These bees visit 'gullet' flowers, such as
this morning glory.
beautiful metallic green bee hovering around a morning glory. Turns out it is the euglossine orchid bee, Euglossa viridissima, that Bob Pemberton, retired entomologist, first described after finding it at his Fort Lauderdale garden about seven years ago. This species of bee has naturalized in South Florida. Primarily an orchid pollinator in Central America, the South Florida bees have been known to visit about 100 plant species here. The males collect volatile and aromatic compounds in special hind leg pockets with which to attract females, while the females collect resin for brood chambers from such flowers as Delchampia aristolochiifolia. I sent photos to Dr. Pemberton and Dr. Suzanne Koptur, ecologist at FIU, for positive identification, to make sure I didn’t confuse it with a metallic green sweat bee. As long ago as 1971, evolutionary ecologist Dan Janzen of the University of Pennsylvania worked in Costa Rica and wrote about euglossine bees flying as far as 23 kilometers or 14 miles from flower source to nest