Typical Mining Bees (Andreninae)

Typical Mining Bees

  • Name: Andreninae
  • Rank: subfamily
  • Parent ID: 57668

The bee subfamily Andreninae is a nearly cosmopolitan lineage, with most of its diversity in one genus, Andrena, which contains over 1500 species. The remaining four genera in the subfamily only contain a total of 9 species.


ID: 451978

The Alluring World of Typical Mining Bees (Andreninae)


Bees have always fascinated humankind with their industrious nature and crucial ecological roles. While the honeybee often takes the limelight, our world is brimming with other bee species that contribute immensely to our ecosystems. One such fascinating group is the Typical Mining Bees, belonging to the subfamily Andreninae. These bees have a plethora of interesting traits and behaviors that many might be unaware of.


Mining bees, true to their name, are known for their unique underground nests. These solitary bees exhibit a wide range of colors and sizes but are often overlooked due to their non-aggressive nature and somewhat secretive habits. Despite their subtle presence, they play an integral role in the pollination of wildflowers and some agricultural crops.

Identifying Physical Characteristics

  1. Size: Mining bees are generally small to medium-sized, most commonly measuring between 8mm to 12mm in length.
  2. Color: Their color can range from a basic black to a reddish-brown, often with bands of hair on the abdomen.
  3. Hair: One distinct feature is their dense pilosity. They often have thick, plush hair on their thorax and face.
  4. Wings: Their wings tend to be translucent with a smoky tint, and their wing venation is a key trait for identification.

Nesting Practices

  1. Underground Tunnels: Mining bees are known for digging individual burrows in the ground. These tunnels can be quite deep, sometimes reaching over a foot beneath the surface.
  2. Nest Structure: Each tunnel typically ends in a brood chamber where the female places a ball of pollen and lays a single egg.
  3. Solitary Nature: Although each female makes her own nest, it’s not uncommon to find many mining bee nests in one location, giving the impression of a community.

Floral Specialization

Mining bees are valuable pollinators and have a diverse floral range:

  1. Generalists: Many mining bees are generalist foragers, meaning they collect pollen and nectar from various flower species.
  2. Specialists: Some mining bees are specialists, pollinating specific plants. This mutual relationship ensures the propagation of both the plant and the bee species.

Size and Region Locality

  1. Size Variability: As previously mentioned, they generally fall in the small to medium size range.
  2. Regions: Typical Mining Bees are primarily found in the Northern Hemisphere. They’re widespread across North America and Europe, inhabiting gardens, meadows, and woodlands.


Typical Mining Bees, or Andreninae, might not have the renown of honeybees or bumblebees, but their contribution to our environment is undeniable. Their intricate underground homes and vital pollination services are testament to the rich tapestry of bee biodiversity. So, the next time you’re in a garden or meadow, take a moment to appreciate the unnoticed work of these underground architects.