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This isn’t bothering us at all, just curious…

We assembled a raised bed on our back deck in Washington, DC a few days ago. We used peat-free Organic Mechanics container blend potting soil. Then these cute little fuzzy bees started rooting around in the dirt.

We thought they might be mason bees, but there’s no clay in this mix. Any idea what kind of bees these are and what they’re doing?

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This is a honey bee; they crawl around oddly on soil when there is something in the soil which is of great interest to them. It could be water, or easy sugar, or they pick up the pheromones from a colony in the soil. This can happen if say you use a knife to spread honey on a bread slice, then wash the knife in clean water and put the water on the soil. This puts all three items of interest in that locality, and they will be worth investigating by the bee even in their diluted condition. The bee may not hang around if the economics of harvesting are unfavourable.

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  • Like a normal European honey bee? I'll say that it looks a bit smaller and grayer than what I'm used to seeing as honey bees, but that could just be the time of year or something. I haven't seen a lot of other honey bees yet this year, so maybe these are just young? – Emily Beth May 23 at 16:45
  • Apis mellifera - young bees don't forage outside the colony, they are the nurse bees for the first weeks of their life. – Colin Beckingham May 23 at 16:48
  • Honey bees chew wood as part of their hive building work as well as using wax. It looks like they like the wood chips on your raised bed. They will have created a pheromone trail to your "wood pile" so you will get regular visitors. Just let them do their thing. Honey bees are not aggressive unless you deliberately provoke them. – alephzero May 23 at 16:53

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