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The University of Tennessee Institue of Agriculture

Bees and Beekeeping

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Bees and Beekeeping » Squash Bees

Squash Bees

Did you know that Native Squash bees provide very economically significant pollination of cucurbit crops such as squash and pumpkin? Pictured left is a Peponapis sp. squash bee inside a summer squash flower.

In the field, you may confuse them for honey bees, but look for their wide face, hairy legs, long tongue, and a wider abdomen then a honey bee.

See how different this honey bee (pictured right) looks?

Male Peponapis bees have yellow on their face, and are often seen resting in the flowers.

The squash field is an important habitat for native squash bees. They often mate in the flowers, the males will shelter over night in the flowers, and the primary source of pollen for squash bees come from Cucurbit flowers only. To provide habitat for squash bees, simply plant squash every year and keep in mind that they will nest individually in the ground near and in your squash fields. Providing undisturbed areas adjacent for nesting and avoiding deep tillage of fields should improve nesting sites for native squash bees. Shallow tillage amid rows during bloom should also bee avoided, but disking or rototilling in spring or later in the fall should be OK.

Learn more from the Squash Pollinators of the Americas Survey