Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Honey Bee - Apis mellifera - female

Honey Bee - Apis mellifera - Female
Oka Ponds, Los Gatos, Santa Clara County, California, USA
September 14, 2008
Size: ~12-14 mm
The basic question is: Is this a Honey Bee? It's not carrying any pollen, but it looks like it might have scopae on the hind tibia. (?)

What I'm trying to learn could be put as follows: What characterizes an Apis bee? Are there any native bees that look like Apis bees? In other words, if it looks like a honey bee, is it a honey bee? Or, conversely, how do you know a bee is not an Apis?

Ancillary question: I know drones leave the hive and fly around (saw this at an apiary once -- the beekeeper could tell the drones by their flight sound -- to entertain folks he would grab them out of the air, even put them in his mouth. He said they flew around for exercise and to take a dump, that they were a useless drain on the hive resources and he consequently destroyed a number of them). I didn't find out if they got their own nectar or did all their feeding in the hive. Thus: do drone honey bees visit flowers? Are those scopae or could this be a drone? BTW, this one's on California Buckwheat. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Moved from ID Request.

Info page has, uh, info and many helpful links

Yes, and it's easy
Well, it is easy to see this is a honeybee when it is such a clear image! Honeybees do not have a "scopa," which is a brush of long, dense hairs for collecting pollen. Instead, they (and bumble bees) have the hind tibia and first tarsal segment flattened into a bare, concave "pollen basket" fringed with sparse, long hairs. That is the easiest way to separate honeybees from lookalikes (aka Colletes, Andrena, Megachile,, etc) that are of a similar size.