Colletidae

These are the plasterer and yellow-faced bees. The adults are 3.5-12 mm long and the body is black and may be marked with white or yellow bands. Plasterer bees in the genus Colletes nest in the ground or in crevices in bricks and stones. They plaster the sides of the nest with a secretion, which dries to form a cellophane-like lining that is unique among the bees. Yellow-faced bees make simple nests in plant stalks and insect burrows in wood.

Common plasterer bee, Colletes compactus compactus Adults are about 12 mm long and the head is marked with yellow; the abdomen has white markings on the apical portion of each segment. These bees commonly nest in the ground, but they will form nests in crevices in bricks and stone walls. The female typically digs a burrow in the soil, which extends 45-70 cm. From this main burrow, lateral branches 5-15 cm long are made; at the end of each is a brood cell. The brood cells are made, provisioned, and receive an egg, starting from the bottom to the surface. There may be 2-4 lateral branches from each main burrow. These bees make numerous nests in the mortar of the brick veneer of houses. The old or weak mortar may be excavated to accommodate a burrow and brood cells. The presence of these bees dislodging mortar on the sides of houses causes concern. This species is generally distributed in the USA.

Other Colletidae Species of Colletes occur in the UK and continental Europe and are a nuisance when they nest in the mortar and crevices between bricks of houses. Colletes daviesanus is a common pest of external brickwork in the UK. The nest is usually 5-10 cm deep and contains 2-8 separate cells. Species of Hylaeus also nest in mortar and in the burrows of wood-infesting beetles.

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