Scientific Name: Halictus virgatellus Cockerell, 1901

Common Name: Comma Sweat Bee


Halictus virgatellus Cockerell, 1901: 284 [♀].

     Holotype ♀. USA, Washington, Olympia, 2 June 1895, by T. Kincaid [USNM].

Halictus sansoni Crawford, 1911: 267 [♀] [synonymy by Sandhouse 1941: 36].

     Holotype ♀. CANADA, Alberta, Banff [USNM no. 13753].

Halictus fraserae Cockerell, 1916: 100 [♀] [synonymy by Sandhouse 1941: 36].

     Holotype ♀. USA, Colorado, Tolland, July 1915, by L.A. Kenoyer, on Frasera [USNM]. 

Halictus typographicus Cockerell, 1918: 261 [♂‚] [synonymy by Sandhouse 1941: 36].

     Holotype ♂‚. USA, Colorado, Pikes Peak, Printing Office, 10,000 ft., 17 Sept [no year provided], by T.D.A. Cockerell [USNM]

Halictus (Seladonia) ororyctes Cockerell, 1933: 40 [♀] [synonymy by Sandhouse 1941: 36].

     Holotype ♀. USA, Colorado, Pingree Park, 15 August 1932, by H. James [Riverside or CAS].


Species Notes

Cockerell (1916) indicated that it was likely that his H. fraserae was a colour variant of H. virgatellus, and later (Cockerell 1918) compared the habitat of H. virgatellus and H. frasera to H. typographicus, suggesting they all co-occurred and were likely closely related. Cockerell (1919) later recognized the male of H. virgatellus and compared it to H. typographicus but still considered them different species. He (Cockerell 1933) also compared his H. ororyctes to H. virgatellus.



This species is primarily solitary (Eickwort et al. 1996) though may exhibit some levels of sociality in southern parts of its range (Packer et al. 2007). Eickwort et al. (1996) indicated that the switch to a solitary life style likely allows these bees to live at much higher latitudes than eusocial species.



Likely widespread across western alpine and northern regions of Canada as far east as Labrador, though uncommon. Sandhouse (1941) recorded this species from British Columbia, Alberta, and the MacKenzie District (presumably the Northwest Territories). Strainer (1959) also recorded this species from British Columbia, but did not indicate from where, though surveys were based out of Okanagan Mission and Vancouver. Roberts (1973) also recorded this species from the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, and Alberta in Canada, though indicated that he had not seen any specimens collected below 1,829 m (6,000 ft), with some occurring as high as 2,500 m (8,200 ft). He also considered this species rare in collections, and indicated that little was known of its biology (Roberts 1971).



Cockerell TDA (1901) Some insects of the Hudsonian Zone in New Mexico.—VI. Hymenoptera Apoidea. II. Psyche 9: 282-287.

Cockerell TDA (1916) Some bees from Colorado. The Entomologist 49: 100-102.

Cockerell TDA (1918) Some halictine bees. The Entomologist 51: 161-162.

Cockerell TDA (1919) The bees of the Rocky Mountain National Park (Hymenop.). Entomological News 30: 286-294.

Cockerell TDA (1933) Bees collected by Mrs. Maurice T. James in Pingree Park, Colorado. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 26: 40-44.

Crawford JC (1911) Descriptions of new Hymenoptera. No. 3. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 41: 267-282.

Eickwort GC, Eixkwort JM, Gordon J, Eickwort MK (1996) Revision to solitary behavior from eusocial ancestry in the sweat bee Halictus rubicundus in the Rock Mountains, and its implications for high-altitude and high-latitude adaptations and holarctic distributions of social insects. Behavioral Ecology and Social Biology 38: 227-233.

Roberts RB (1973) Bees of Northwestern America: Halictus (Hymenoptera: Halictidae). Agricultural Experiment Station, Oregon State University Technical Bulletin 126, 23 pp. 

Sandhouse GA [1941] The American bees of the subgenus Halictus. Entomoligica American 21(1): 23-38. 

Strainer J (1959) A collection of Hymenoptera from British Columbia. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of British Columbia 56(4): 65-66.

Sociality: Variable
Nesting: Ground
Pollen Specialization: Polylectic
Wintering Stage: Mated Female

Crop Preference: Not Available
Non Crop Preference: Not Available

Distribution: Alberta, British Columbia, Labrador, Manitoba, Northwest Territories
Ecozone: Hudson Plains, Prairie, Taiga Plains

Distribution Map