This subgenus is widespread and relatively conspicuous from early spring through early summer. As a group they are relatively distinctive though only a couple species are regularly identifiable from photographs
Identification: Females are larger than other Mining Bees and are often mistaken for small Bumble Bees. They all have black abdomens and a hairy thorax that varies from pale yellow to bright orange. Males are similar to many other Mining Bees, though with experience can be recognized by their large angular heads and thick “mustache” across their lower face.
Bumble Bees (genus Bombus): Small worker bumble bees are hairy and can be a similar size to Melandrena females. All worker bumble bees in Vermont have at least some yellow hair on their abdomen, unlike Melandrena.
Clark’s Mining Bee (Andrena clarkella): This willow specialist is large with a similar hair pattern, but unlike Melandrena females, Clark’s Mining Bees have bright orange scopal hairs on their tibia.
To see the global distribution, check out the iNaturalist account, and toggle the GBIF layer on the map.
Unless otherwise specified, photos in the grid are courtesy of Margarita Miklasevskaja at PCYU with funding from NSERC-CANPOLIN.