School of Life Sciences | Ask A Biologist

dropdown arrow downdropdown arrow upshow/hide menu

Ask A Biologist heading
Digger bee subpage header

Female Digger Bees

show/hide words to know

  • Brood pot: a single wax-lined chamber filled with nectar and pollen. Unlike a honey bee comb that can have hundreds to thousands of brood cells.
  • Metamorphosis: dramatic change in body form... more
  • Prepupa: the inactive stage just before the pupa in the development of certain insects.
  • Pupa: resting stage during which tissues are reorganized from larval form to adult form. The pupa is the third body form in the life cycle of insects that undergo complete metamorphosis (like caterpillars).

What do females of Centris pallida do to add to a new generation of their species?

a digging female Digging females of Centris pallida tunnel down through sandy to gravelly soil for about a foot or so before finishing off the burrow with an inch-long vertical, terminal cell located roughly eight inches beneath the surface of the soil. In this cell, the female forms a brood pot lined with wax that she then fills with nectar and pollen.  On top of the sticky mass of food, she lays an egg, which hatches into a tiny grub that feasts on the provisions provided by its mother.

A brood pot.Once the food is gone and the grub’s development is complete, the baby bee turns itself into a pale grub-like prepupa, which rests quietly underground for 11 months or so.  Long after its mother prepared the cell for its offspring, the prepupa eventually metamorphoses into a pupa, which in turn soon becomes an adult bee. The fresh adult digs its way up to the surface and begins a very active life beginning in April or early May that runs its course in about a month or so.stages of development

Watch a female digger bee build her nest complete with slow motion instant replay. You can get the rest of the story and images on this page. Click the icon in the lower left of the video to view full screen.

Share to Google Classroom

Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.

dropdown arrow downdropdown arrow up  Learn More

Watch a female digger bee build her nest complete with slow motion instant replay. You can get the rest of the story and images on this page. Click the icon in the lower left of the video to view full screen.

Share to Google Classroom

Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.