Mission: Find and Share Observations of Squash Bees from Your Garden

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August 6, 2020 by Kent McFarland

Known as the Eastern Cucurbit Bee, Squash Bee or, the Pruinose Squash Bee (Peponapis pruinosa), is an important pollinator of cultivated crops of squash, pumpkins, and related plants in the genus Cucurbita. Females will only use cucurbit pollen to provision their young. Its range expanded as human agriculture spread throughout North America and squash plants became more abundant and widespread.

Eastern Squash Bee records from the Vermont Atlas of Life.

Surprisingly, it has only been recorded in five counties in Vermont. We need your help in recording the range of this species throughout the state. Finding and photographing them is easy. Just watch some squash flowers in your garden with camera in hand!

How to Find Them

Activity patterns of the bees are closely tied to the squash flowers, which open near sunrise and close before noon. The male bee spends most all of his time in and around flowers, foraging and mating in the open flowers and sleeping inside the closed flowers after noon. Have a peek inside and your likely to find one. The females live in and around the flowers until nesting season, when they live in and maintain one or more nests. You can find them gathering pollen in the morning inside of the flowers. Females dig a nest in the ground near its host plants, sometimes even in lawns. She will sometimes plug the nest just below the surface, and have a mound of dirt at the entrance. Nest building activity often occurs later in the day when the flowers close to foraging.

Report Your Discoveries to the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist

Check as many squash patches as you can in your area and report your photo-observations to our iNaturalist project, and check out all the other observations too!

Female gathering pollen early in the morning.

Two males inside a closed flower during mid afternoon.

Female with a load of pollen to carry back to a nest.