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Mission, Texas

Florilegus condignus long-horned bee - (c) Copyright 2019 Paula Sharp


Worthy Long-horned Bee

Florilegus condignus


Family:  Apidae

Size:  11-12  mm (female)
           9.5 - 12.5 mm (male)

Associated plants at NBC:  

(Melochia tomentosa)

Plant family:   Malvaceae

Golden dewdrops
(Duranta erecta)

Plant family:   Verbenaceae

Mexican hat (male bees only)
(Ratibida columnifera)

Plant family:   Asteraceae

When seen:  May - July 2019 - 2022 

Associated plant at NBC:  

(Melochia tomentosa)

Plant family:   Malvaceae

When seen:  May 2019  

Florilegus condignus; Copyright 2020 Paula Sharp

A female Florilegus condignus long-horned bee

Florilegus condignus long-horned bee - (c) Copyright 2019 Paula Sharp

A female Florilegus condignus long-horned bee

Florilegus condignus - (c) Copyright 2019 Paula Sharp

A male Florilegus condignus long-horned bee

Florilegus condignus - (c) Copyright 2019 Paula Sharp

A male Florilegus condignus long-horned bee

Genus Florilegus

The small bee genus Florilegus contains fewer than a dozen species and is found only in the Western Hemisphere.  A single species of Florilegus inhabits the United States -- the worthy long-horned bee (Florilegus condignus). 

Florilegus condignus is often described as relatively rare.  Nonetheless, this unusual species is locally abundant in Hidalgo County, Texas, from mid-spring through summer.

Distinguishing traits of Florilegus condignus

Worthy long-horned bees are about half an inch in length and somewhat resemble the more common Melissodes long-horned bees shown earlier in this Texas bee guide.  Both male and female Florilegus condignus are black bees with hairy thoraxes and banded abdomens; females have bushy hind-leg scopal hairs, and males have long antennae.


Male and female Florilegus condignus differ enough in appearance that the casual observer might assume that they belong to separate species. 

The female is a robust bee with hind legs covered with bushy, predominantly pale scopal hairs.  Its abdomen is  banded with wide stripes of dense golden-yellow hairs.  Its dark thorax is covered with patches of dark and light hairs.  The female's face is dark and covered with pale hairs, its mandibles are dark, and its eyes are a bright blue-green.  These traits make the female Florilegus condignus fairly easy to recognize for the casual observer. 


Male Florilegus condignus are slenderer than females and have a distinctively "shaggy" appearance.  Their thoraxes are covered with rust-colored hairs, and their abdomens are banded with longish pale and yellowish hairs; the hair bands continue onto the underside of the bee.  The male bee's clypeus (the face-part above the mandibles) is yellow, and its eyes are light green. Its antennae are much longer than the female bee's.

The tips of the male bee's antennae are dark --- a trait that helps distinguish the male Florilegus condignus from similar males of the locally common species Melissodes tepaneca.  The mandibles of the male Florilegus condignus are also entirely dark; this trait additionally aids in differentiating this species from various Melissodes species.

Other minute traits, too small to detect with the naked eye, aid in identifying Florilegus condignus. Among others, the female   Florilegus condignus bee’s mandibles have a tooth near the inside of each tip, and the female bee's front femur is broadened.  Both males and females have five-jointed maxillary palpi (short mouth-part appendages behind a bee's mandibles ).

Bee behavior and floral preferences

We owe the most comprehensive research on the genus Florilegus to the renowned Brazilian entomologist, Danuncia Urban.  In 1970, Urban wrote a treatise describing all known Florilegus species and announcing two previously unknown species (Florilegus affinis Urban and Florilegus lavohirtus Urban).  Since then, studies of Florilegus bees in English have been few and have focused on the pollen-collecting habits of North America's Florilegus condignus.

Florilegus condignus is sometimes described in popular literature and databases as a specialist on the blossoms of pickerelweed (Pontederia), a purple aquatic flower found in wetlands, which belongs to the plant family  Pontederiaceae.


Nonetheless, Florilegus condignus is probably not a pickerelweed specialist. It is often found in association with pea-family plants and was praised by entomologist Wallace LaBerge for its prowess as an alfalfa pollinator.  Florilegus condignus emerges at the National Butterfly Center during mid-spring when the pea-family trees honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) and retama (Parkinsonia aculeata) are in full bloom. 

Large numbers of both the male and female Florilegus condignus appear at the NBC from spring through July, visiting the flowers of teabush, a native mallow-family plant; and golden dewdrops (Duranta erecta), an ornamental in the verbena family.  Pickerelweed, the alleged specialist plant of Florilegus condignus, is not found locally.

The entomologist Charles Robertson recorded Florilegus condignus on a fairly wide variety of plants -- including, for example, Asclepias,  Bidens, Blephilia, Cassia, Cephalanthus, Dianthera, Lippia, Lythrum, Psoralea, Pycnanthemum, Teucriurn and Verbena.

Florilegus condignus long-horned bee (c) Copyright 2019 Paula Sharp

A female Florilegus condignus long-horned bee 

a male florilegus condignus long-horned bee - (Copyright 2019 Paula Sharp)

A male Florilegus condignus long-horned bee 



Order:   Hymenoptera

Family:   Apidae

Subfamily:  Eucerinae

Tribe:  Eucerini

Genus:   Florilegus
Species found at NBC:
    Florilegus condignus

Florilegus Species of the National Butterfly Center

CITE THIS PAGE:  Sharp, Paula and Ross Eatman.  "Florilegus."  Wild Bees of the National Butterfly Center of Mission, Texas. 15 Jan. 2019,  Accessed [day/month/year guide accessed].

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