Squash bees, like most of our native bees, are solitary, ground-nesting bees. This means that they do not live in a hive or colony like the more familiar honey bees and bumble bees. Instead, each female squash bee digs her own nest in the soil and collects pollen and nectar to feed her own offspring.
Squash bees gather pollen exclusively from plants in the genus Cucurbita, which includes, zucchini, yellow squash, all the winter squashes, pumpkins and gourds. These flowers open near dawn, and squash bees begin foraging around that time.
Squash yield is entirely dependent on insect pollinators, because male and female reproductive parts are housed in separate flowers. The pollen is heavy and can’t be dispersed by wind. By some estimates, squash bees alone may pollinate around two-thirds of the commercially grown squash in the United States. They are also regular visitors to suburban vegetable gardens.