This is a fairly small family of bees that are similar in appearance and habits to the Halictidae, or sweat bees. There are about 160 species in North America. The females dig a vertical tunnel downward in the soil with small chambers off to the side of this main tunnel. In this chamber she places a food supply of pollen and nectar and then a single egg, and the larva develops within its chamber. A small mound of soil is often present at the surface where the main tunnel begins. While the females may be “capable” of inflicting a very minor sting, these are solitary bees and the threat of stinging is extremely low. They are native bees and important pollinators. Some species will find or excavate narrow chambers in hollow twigs of shrubs where the interior is soft, and then create a short series of cells, each with a provision of food and an egg.
These beneficial bees should never be killed. Even when present in residential yards or child play areas the likelihood of stinging is exceptionally low, and the benefits of the bees outweigh any threat. Where a customer considers the presence of the working adult bees intolerable the soil can be covered during the period they are active. Pesticide applications are not warranted or particularly effective.