Bee BehaviourBubbling Bees Buzz Pollination

Images and Contributor Author Gary Taylor

Did you know that certain native bees create bubbles. One such species are the Amegilla chlorocyanea in the act of “bubbling”. As Gary has said:

“Bubbling” is a process where the bee will regurgitate the watery nectar it has sucked up into a small ball, that it holds with it’s mouthparts, to evaporate the water out and condense it.

Gary Taylor, Western Australia
"Bubbling" Amegilla chlorocyanea © Gary Taylor
“Bubbling” Amegilla chlorocyanea © Gary Taylor

Check out our page on the Amegilla chlorocyanea Bubbling, wonderfully captured by Author Gary Taylor.

The act of when “a bee bubble” is a process by which the bee is thought to be concentrating the nectar that they have collected from flowers, making it more suitable for their needs. Whilst it is not certain that all bees do this, many native bee species are know to and have been seen blowing bubbles. As well as the species Amegilla chlorocyanea, the genus Lasioglossum, subgenus Homalictus and many of the bees from the family Colletidae are known to blow bubbles.

Bubbling Homalictus bee © Gary Taylor
Bubbling Homalictus bee © Gary Taylor

The expulsion of nectar to evaporate the moisture out to condense it can be seen with the following genus Exoneura on a Tamarisk. This bee is about 6 mm long and the one often referred to as a “Reed bee” as she likes to nest in hollow plant stems (such as reeds), although any hollow stem will do. Here we can see the clarity of the nectar bubble at the start (like any spherical lens it inverts the image behind).

Bubbling genus Exoneura on a Tamarisk © Gary Taylor
Bubbling genus Exoneura on a Tamarisk © Gary Taylor

In the following picture of the genus Homalictus, again on Tamarisk, this bee is smaller, at about 4 mm long, but just as gorgeous with her stunning metallic green (that changes to stunning gold or incredible copper red depending on the angle of the light on her). This picture shows how she uses her glossa (that’s just scientific for “bee tongue”) to hold and stretch the bubble for faster evaporation. In layman’s term, they blow and suck the nectar in and out, until it’s a bit like Nestlé’s sweetened condensed milk.

Bubbling genus Homalictis © Gary Taylor
Bubbling genus Homalictis © Gary Taylor

In this picture is the genus Lieoproctus, possibly plumosa. This one shows the colour change that comes with the condensing of the nectar, as evident in the bubble.

Bubbling genus Lieoproctus © Gary Taylor
Bubbling genus Lieoproctus © Gary Taylor

In the following image, we can see Hylaeus (Gnathoprosopis) euxanthus creating “yellow coloured bubbles”, the colour being derived from pollen in the mixture.

Hylaeus (Gnathoprosopis) euxanthus bubbling © Marc Newman
Hylaeus (Gnathoprosopis) euxanthus bubbling, Ballandean QLD © Marc Newman

This page is a work in progress…

Related/additional information on Amegilla chlorocyanea – bubbling bee, Hylaeus euxanthus and blogs To bubble or not to bubble…, Sweat running down my face…


Footnote & References

  1. Images and content contribution by Gary Taylor, Western Australia

BeesAmegilla Bee Austroplebeia australis Bees Anatomy Bee Behaviour Ceylalictus perditellus Colletidae European Honey Bee Euryglossinae Homalictus Hyleoides bivulnerata Lipotriches Megachile Meroglossa Stenotritidae Thyreus Xylocopa aerata

Bee BehaviourBubbling Bees Buzz Pollination