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The Kid Should See This

The digger bee who builds her sandcastles at the beach

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It might seem peculiar, bees living at the beach. But this is their home, and they spend the spring building their perfect beach condos. At their local watering hole, they’re not actually having a drink. They’re collecting water as a raw material. They slurp it into a pouch in their abdomen called a crop. They can carry one-sixth of their weight in water, hauling it to the side of this cliff in Northern California…

Back and forth, back and forth, 80 times a day. They’re building their nests from the cliff’s mix of sand, clay and gravel, spraying water to soften it up. See how she extends her proboscis and uses it like a hose? Then she digs and digs and digs.

…which makes sense because this is the bumblebee-mimic digger bee (Anthophora bomboides stanfordiana).

Anthophora bomboides stanfordiana
Like the blue orchard bee and most of the 4,000 species of bees in North America, this digger bee is solitary. She lays just a few eggs in individual brood cells carved into the coast’s sandy cliffs.

This KQED Deep Look episode captures some incredible footage of their beach life, from how they soften the sand for burrowing, to how they build protective turrets and lay eggs in their nests.

bee nests in the sand
beach bee ecosystem
Watch more Deep Look videos on TKSST, plus more videos about burrows and bees, including:
A female blue orchard bee builds her ‘bee-jeweled’ nest
Can wild bees also pollinate our plants & crops?
• The elusive Bipes biporus, Baja’s ‘worm lizard’
A pacific razor clam burrows rapidly into the sand

Bonus: The turret spider’s camouflaged towers.

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