Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
from the July 13, 2014 Newsletter issued from the Frio Canyon Nature Education Center in the valley of the Dry Frio River in northern Uvalde County, southwestern Texas, on the southern border of the Edwards Plateau, USA
The screened-in veranda of the house I was painting had its doors off, so insects flew in, then for hours bumped against the screens trying to get out. Mostly it was moths but also some bees, who often turned up dead at the screens' bases, apparently having run out energy. One bee was still alive, however, and when I looked closely I realized the body was too short and stubby for a regular honeybee of Eurasian in origin. Also, pollen on the back leg was carried differently from how honeybees do it. This was a native American bee, which, above, you can see on a rag used to clean up red paint I'd made a mess with. A shot with a top view of the bee is seen below.
A close-up emphasizing the short antenna and mottled eyes surrounded by dense hairiness appears below:
And a close-up showing how pollen is carried on the back leg appears below:
With help from Dr. John Ascher, an entomologist at the National University of Singapore and Associate with the American Museum of Natural History, corresponding via BugGuide.Net, our bee has been identified as a member of the genus ANTHOPHORA, known as Chimney or Miner Bees. In our part of the country the most commons Anthophora species by far seems to Anthophora abrupta, so I'm guessing that that's what we have, though I can't be sure.
A webpage on Anthophora abrupta provided by North Carolina State University says that they are solitary bees that do not collect honey and do not sting, though they could bite if handled roughly. They are garden pollinators and serve an increasingly important role as honey bee populations decline.
The bees nest in colonies of separate tunnels excavated in hard clay. Females construct the nest, softening the hard with regurgitated water and removing clay particles with their mandibles.
The illustrated North Carolina web page with much information on the bee's life history is at http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Other/note114/note114.html