orange-legged furrow bee

(Halictus rubicundus)

Conservation Status
orange-legged furrow bee
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked


not listed


Orange-legged furrow bee is an exotic, medium-sized, common, and very widespread bee. It is a stretch to call this species exotic. It is native to Europe and Asia. It was probably introduced into North America between 26,000 and 19,000 years ago when there was a land bridge between what are now Russia and Alaska. It now occurs throughout the temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere. In North America it has been recorded in every state and province except Nunavut.

The female is to 716 (10 to 11 mm) in length. The head and body are entirely black with whitish hairs and without a metallic greenish cast.

The head is somewhat wider than long. The top of the head is deeply and distinctly pitted (punctured). There are two large compound eyes and between them on top of the head there are three small simple eyes (ocelli). The compound eyes converge slightly toward the bottom. The ocelli are arranged in a triangle. The lateral two ocelli are much closer to the hind margin of the head than to the compound eyes. On the face there is just a single line-like groove extending downward from the base of each antenna (subantennal suture). The cheeks (genae) are slightly wider than the eyes. The tongue is short.

The thorax is deeply and distinctly punctured. The pronotum is short and collar-like. It has a rounded lobe on each side that does not reach the plates covering the wing bases (tegulae). The tegulae are brownish-black and have a narrow translucent rim on the front margin.

The abdomen is minutely and very closely punctured. The punctures on the first abdominal segment are deep and distinct, and they gradually become obscure toward the end of the abdomen. There is a well-defined band of dense white hairs at the rear margin of each segment. On segments one and two the bands are narrowed in the middle.

The legs are mostly black and are covered with yellowish hairs. The fourth leg segment (tibia) has long pollen-collecting hairs (scopa). The last part of each leg (tarsus), corresponding to the foot, has five segments. The last tarsal segments are rusty orange. This is the feature that gives the bee both its common name and its species epithet.

The wings are mostly translucent with pale reddish-brown veins. The cell (stigma) on the leading edge (costal margin) just before the marginal cell is also pale reddish-brown. The marginal cell is pointed but not sharply pointed. There are three submarginal cells. The first cell is longer than the third. The veins dividing the submarginal cells are dark and prominent. The basal vein is strongly arced at the base, like the letter J.

The male is similar in size and appearance, but the upper lip (labrum), most of the facial plate (clypeus), and the tibia and tarsus of each leg are yellow, and it has no pollen-collecting hairs. The wings are clear but slightly tinged with brown toward the tip.




Female: to 716 (10 to 11 mm)

Male: to 716 (10 to 11 mm)


Similar Species






March to September




Northern bees tend to be more solitary and southern bees tend to be more social. Minnesota is in the intermediate zone, where both solitary and social behavior can be seen in different nests.


Life Cycle




Larva Food


Flower pollen


Adult Food


Flower nectar and pollen


Distribution Map



4, 24, 27, 29, 30, 82, 83.




Common and very widespread



Hymenoptera (ants, bees, wasps, and sawflies)  


Apocrita (narrow-waisted wasps, ants, and bees)  


Aculeata (ants, bees, and stinging wasps)  


Apoidea (bees and apoid wasps)  
  Epifamily Anthophila (bees)  


Halictidae (sweat bees)  


Halictinae (sweat and furrow bees)  




Halictus (furrow bees)  
  Subgenus Protohalictus  





Common Names


orange-legged furrow bee

polymorphic sweat bee










On insects, a hardened plate on the face above the upper lip (labrum).


Costal margin

The leading edge of the forewing of insects.



On insects: The area between the compound eye and the mandible; the cheek. On birds: The area between the the angle of the jaw and the bill; the feathered side (outside) of the under mandible. Plural: genae.



The upper part of the mouth, sometimes considered the lower part of the face, corresponding to the upper lip, on an insect or crustacean.



Simple eye; an eye with a single lens. Plural: ocelli.



A brush-like tuft of hairs on the legs or underside of the abdomen of a bee used to collect pollen.



In plants, the portion of the female part of the flower that is receptive to pollen. In Lepidoptera, an area of specialized scent scales on the forewing of some skippers, hairstreaks, and moths. In other insects, a thickened, dark, or opaque cell on the leading edge of the wing



On insects, the last two to five subdivisions of the leg, attached to the tibia; the foot. On spiders, the last segment of the leg. Plural: tarsi.



A small, hardened, plate, scale, or flap-like structure that overlaps the base of the forewing of insects in the orders Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera, Diptera, and Homoptera. Plural: tegulae.



The fourth segment of an insect leg, after the femur and before the tarsus (foot). The fifth segment of a spider leg or palp.





Visitor Photos

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Alfredo Colon

    orange-legged furrow bee   orange-legged furrow bee  
    orange-legged furrow bee   orange-legged furrow bee  





Halictus rubicundus
Iyptala's Garden
  Halictus rubicundus  



Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  solitary bee Halictus rubicundus investigating nest sites
Martin Harvey

Apr 10, 2015

A short and rather wobbly video of the bee Halictus rubicundus. Filmed at Preston Montford Field Studies Centre, on an area of sandy bank at the edge of a pond.

  Halictus rubicundus
Gilberto Squizzato

May 7, 2018

  Halictus rubicundus in Lady Dixon Park 20/04/2019 video 1

Apr 22, 2019




Visitor Sightings

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  Alfredo Colon

Location: Albany, NY

orange-legged furrow bee  
  Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, MN

orange-legged furrow bee  






Created: 2/1/2023

Last Updated:

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