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Word of the Week: Colletidae
April 09, 2021 by Haya Aldoori

Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

Photo by Andrew Yee

Colletidae [Col-LETI-dae] (noun): A taxonomic family of bees that are often referred to collectively as cellophane bees, plasterer bees or polyester bees.

These bees are some of the earliest to emerge in the spring. Bees in the Colletidae family are referred to as cellophane, plasterer or polyester bees because they line their nests with a cellophane-like secretion using their unique two-lobe tipped tongue. This secretion helps protect developing bees from fungal diseases and waterproofs their nests. In fact, it is so effective at waterproofing that ground-nesting species can nest in flood-prone to areas. Despite their solitary status, these bees tend to nest in aggregations; building their nests near one another.

At the High Park Nature Centre, we like to nickname them “tickle bees” because of how these friendly bees feel when they land on your skin. They are especially great with the kids who attend our programs because it’s an awesome way for them to experience pollinators while learning that not all bees have the ability to sting!

Keep an eye out for these important pollinators of spring shrubs and wildflowers on your next High Park visit!


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