Spring is in the air, but along with all the beautiful flowers and leaves come the not as favorable insects. One insect in particular that can be bothersome is a bee, and this year there has been an influx of Plaster (Plasterer) Bees in the Rochester area.
Plaster Bees are native to North America ranging from northern Canada to the Southern states of the United States. They are most active in the months of March through July and live in the ground. In their underground nests they create cells lined with polyester secretion giving them the nickname of the polyester bee.
Typically we are accustomed to bees flying at us in our gardens or on our decks from above, but this particular species reside in the ground. Since the Plaster Bees rise from the ground it take a lot of people by surprise, but according to Lynn Braband of Cornell Cooperative Extension there is no need to be alarmed because they are not very aggressive.
This trend of Plaster Bees is not just limited to Monroe County. These bees have made early spring homes around the surrounding areas as well because of the warm winter Western New York has been having. It is not uncommon to see them in large gatherings on bare ground or in lawns. According to the New York State Biodiversity Project, the majority of bees in New York State are solitary bees such as these, ground nesters and digger bees.
These Plaster Bees are important for fertilisation, as is any bee. They are particularly important because they only gather pollen from a few species of plants. Some of these Plaster Bees have an advanced pollen carrying system on their bodies and are beginning to be used for commercial pollination. Most of the bees that are seen outside are males who can’t actually sting anybody. The females, even though they can string, are not very hostile so it is not likely that they would. The influx is expected to go down within a few weeks.