ligated furrow bee

(Halictus ligatus)

Conservation Status
ligated furrow bee
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked


not listed


Ligated furrow bee is a very common, medium-sized, ground-nesting, eusocial bee. It occurs in the United States, Mexico, Central America, northern South America, and southern Canada. In the United States it occurs in each of the lower 48 states. It is common in the southern half of Minnesota, uncommon to absent in the north. It is found in a wide variety of habitats, especially in sandy areas. Adults are generalist feeders and can be found on a very wide variety of flowers.

The female is 516 to (8 to 10 mm) in length. The head and body are entirely black with pale hairs and without a greenish cast. The head is much wider than long and appears thick. The compound eyes are parallel. On the face there is just a single line-like groove extending downward from the base of each antenna (subantennal suture). The cheeks are much wider than the eyes and are strongly hooked with a prominent knob-like projection at the base. The tongue is short.

The small plates (tegulae) covering the wing bases are coppery.

Each abdominal segment (tergum) has a band of whitish hairs at the bottom (apically). This feature distinguishes the genus Halictus from the closely related genus Lasioglossum, which has bands at the top (basally). The bands on the first two terga are narrow and inconspicuous, the remaining bands are distinct.

The wings are mostly translucent with yellowish veins and a yellowish cell (stigma) on the leading edge (costal margin) just before the marginal cell. 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 smaller, ¼ to (7 to 9 mm) in length. The head is as wide as long. The compound eyes converge slightly at the bottom. The cheeks are not as wide as the eyes. The legs are black at the base. The fourth leg segment (tibia) is brownish-gray on the underside, yellowish on the upper side.




Female: 516 to (8 to 10 mm)

Male: ¼ to (7 to 9 mm)


Similar Species






Several overlapping generations per year: early spring to autumn




Sometimes large numbers build their nests close together.


Life Cycle


A young, hibernating, reproductive female (gyne) emerges in the spring. She builds a nest in the ground consisting of an 8 to 3 deep vertical tunnel with many short side tunnels. She lays a single egg in each side tunnel, provisions it with pollen, then seals the tunnel. The nest has a mound of dirt surrounding the entrance and looks like an ant hill.


Larva Food


Flower pollen


Adult Food


Flower nectar and pollen


Distribution Map



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




Very common, locally abundant



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 Odontalictus  

Halictus ligatus is a species complex that will probably be split into multiple species in the future.






Common Names


ligated furrow bee

ligated gregarious sweat bee









Costal margin

The leading edge of the forewing of insects.



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.



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 upper (dorsal) surface of a body segment of an arthropod. Plural: terga.



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



On plants and animals: a small, rounded, raised projection on the surface. On insects and spiders: a low, small, usually rounded, knob-like projection. On slugs: raised areas of skin between grooves covering the body.





Visitor Photos

Share your photo of this insect.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.

Alfredo Colon

    ligated furrow bee   ligated furrow bee  
    ligated furrow bee      

Mike Poeppe

    ligated furrow bee      








Visitor Videos

Share your video of this insect.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Attach a video, a YouTube link, or a cloud storage link.


Other Videos
  Halictus ligatus on Helianthus

May 30, 2017

PIRU, Logan, UT
11 Aug 2016, 9:07AM

  LIGATED FURROW BEE, Halictus ligatus foraging
Rob Curtis

Jan 13, 2020

LIGATED FURROW BEE, Halictus ligatus foraging. Horner Park, Chicago 8/27/2019




Visitor Sightings

Report a sighting of this insect.

  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at
Be sure to include a location.
  Mike Poeppe

Location: Just west of Houston, MN

ligated furrow bee  
  Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

ligated furrow bee  
  Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

ligated furrow bee  
  Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

ligated furrow bee  






Created: 7/14/2022

Last Updated:

About Us | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | © All rights reserved.