In “Urban Buzz: A New Bee That Sips Sweat” (Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2012), Robert Lee Hotz reports, “Native Insects Getting Closer Look; Humans as ‘Salt Lick’” It’s a long overlooked native bee, ignored like all of them in favour of imported species that produce more honey.
No mystery why this species doesn’t produce any popular brand of honey:
These bees prefer sweaty people—over most animals—because the human diet usually is so salty that their perspiration is saturated with the essential nutrient, experts said. Yet most people never notice when the tiny bees alight on a bare arm or leg.
Their sting doesn’t hurt much.
Sweat bees often live unobtrusively.
“You can have sweat bees nesting in your front yard and never know it,” because they are so small and mild-mannered, said Cornell’s Mr. Gibbs. “Hundreds can nest in a square meter of lawn.”
That is, if you don’t shower much … 😉
Seriously, there are 250 native species of bee found in New York City, though the sweat bee is surely one of the few that is there “just for the people; they’re the salt of the Earth. “