Looking for a summertime pollinator activity? Help us hunt the range of the native squash bee!
Researchers are trying to determine the range of squash bees in the United States and are counting on citizen scientists to help by filling out data sheets.
The squash bee, Peponapis pruinosa, is a great pollinator of squashes, gourds and pumpkins. Squash blossoms are a source of food for foraging female bees and provide pollen for the young in their underground nests. For the male bees, squash blossoms act as a bed and breakfast—the male bees actually sleep in the flowers of squash plants! They spend so much time in the blossoms that the male bees are efficient pollinators along with the females (in most bee species the females do all the heavy lifting for pollination).
Squash bees have a long history with squash plants since both are native to North America. The spread of the squash bee seems to be linked to the spread of farmers and gardeners growing squash. You can learn more about the history of their spread in a great video by Margarita Lopez-Uribe.
Researchers are trying to determine the range of squash bees in the United States and are counting on citizen scientists to help. If you have vine crops in your garden, you can help us survey for these pollinators. Two labs are looking for data, so you can help by filling out two data sheets:
- To send information to the USDA Agricultural Research Station (ARS) in Logan, Utah, use this paper form.
- To send information to Michigan State University, use this paper form, use this link on your phone or use a browser survey found on the MSU Squash Bee page.
You can often find squash bees early in the morning on blossoms in your garden. To get familiar with what you are looking for, watch this video from the ARS lab and this video by Katharina Ullmann, view our resources on the MSU Vegetable Entomology website and check out these Bug Guide photos.
To learn more about squash bees:
- Listen to this PolliNation podcast where Jim Cane discusses the biology of squash bees with Andony Melathopoulos.
- Read “Perfect Pumpkin Pollinators: The Squash Bees!” from the USDA AgResearch Magazine.
- Watch this video on squash bee natural history.
For more information, visit MSU's Squash Bee Project page.