Hoplitis fulgida fulgida, A Really Wild Bee

This female Hoplitis fulgida fulgida specimen was collected by Url Lanham (former curator of Entomology) 2 miles west of Marble, Colorado, July 30, 1982 on Melilotus (sweet clover).

Hoplitis fulgida fulgida is one of approximately one-thousand bee species native to Colorado. This striking wild bee is a brilliant metallic green and occurs in mountainous regions of North America from New Mexico to Yukon Territory, west to Alaska, British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington. In Colorado they are know to occur from the foothills (5600ft) up to at least 10,000ft.

Hoplitis are solitary bees; they do not live in colonies. Each female constructs her own nest. H. fulgida fulgida nests in holes in wood, such as burrows previously made by beetle larvae. They create a linear series of reproductive cells, each containing all the food (pollen and nectar) necessary for one offspring to develop. The reproductive cells are separated by walls of chewed leaves, pebbles, and wood chips (see image at right).
This species is considered polylectic. Females visit many genera of plants while collecting pollen including: Epilobium (fireweed), Frageria (strawberry), Gentiana (gentians), Geranium, Phacelia (scorpion-weed), Potentilla (cinquefoils), Rosa (roses), Ranunculus (buttercups), Rubus (raspberries), Trifolium (clovers), and Taraxacum (dandelions). As in all the pollen collecting females in the family Megachilidae, H. fulgida fulgida carries pollen back to their nests on special hairs (scopa) on the underside of their abdomens, not on their legs.
Like the blue orchard mason bee, H. fulgida fulgida will readily nest in artificial nesting blocks that people can put in their own backyards. Try these links for more information about wild bees and instructions on how to build a nesting block for native pollinating bees:
To learn more:
Check your library for Trap-nesting Wasps and Bees: Life Histories, Nests, and Associates by Karl V. Krombein. It details the nests of many wood-nesting bee and wasp species. Additionally, Die Wildbienen (text in German) by Paul Westrich provides stunningly beautiful photographs of German bees and their life stories.