This is a large congregation of Colletes inaequalis, commonly known as the “Mining Bee.” This natural phenomenon occurs between March and July. The bee ranges from Nova Scotia, Canada south to Georgia, United States. This bee is known to be polylectic (diverse forage), but can specialize on pollinating apples. Colletes will fly about a half mile to a mile and a half for forage.
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If you are lucky enough to find a congregation area, it is a sight to see. There can be hundreds to thousands of these small, excavated tunnels present on the ground. The bees are usually flying one to two feet above the ground as they return from foraging. It is important when observing the bees to be careful not to step on them! If you look closely inside the excavated tunnels you may catch a glimpse of the head of a female protruding out from the tunnel, or you may see her back down into the tunnel.
In this video you see the mating behavior of Colletes inaequalis. The female is the larger bee and also excavates the nesting cavity. The males have foraging duties.