Characterizing the Nest Cell Linings of Colletes inaequalis (“Polyester Bees”)

Endemic to the northeast United States, the Colletes inaequalis bee digs underground nests, provisions them with pollen and nectar, and lays an egg. Over the course of a year, the egg hatches and the bee matures, emerging the following spring to repeat the cycle. In order to protect the contents and the immature insect, the nest cells are lined with a cellophane-like polymer. We are doing some work to characterize this material. You can read an interview about the project at Scientific American, and writer Geoff Manaugh’s take on ‘animal architecture’, including these bees, at Gizmodo.