The hoary squash bee, like the squash that it pollinates, is native to the Americas. It was introduced to Canada when the practice of growing squash was spread by indigenous peoples. A solitary bee, the female squash bee nests in the ground, digging vertical holes a few feet under the surface. Inside, she lays her eggs on balls of pollen, which will serve as food for the resulting larvae.
Female squash bees’ foraging habits are synchronized with opening and closing of the flowers themselves. The bees emerge from their nests at dawn and gather nectar from the newly opened squash and pumpkin flowers, then they return to their nests by late morning. These bees gather pollen on the hairs of their hind legs and are excellent pollinators.
Male squash bees do not spend their day in the nest like the females. Instead they spend the morning foraging for nectar and seeking female mates. In the afternoon, they crawl inside the squash flowers and fall fast asleep, spending the rest of the day at the bottom of the blossoms. If a bee is found sleeping inside a squash flower, it is a male and therefore harmless, because male bees cannot sting.