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The alkali bee, Nomia melanderi,[1] is a ground-nesting bee native to deserts and semi-arid desert basins of the western United States. It was described by Theodore Dru Alison Cockerell in 1906.

Nomia melanderi
3-Sancassania boharti on Nomia melanderi BMOC 96-0916-059.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Halictidae
Genus: Nomia
Subgenus: Acunomia
Species: N. melanderi
Binomial name
Nomia melanderi
(Cockerell, 1906)

The bee nests in salt-saturated soil. It is an effective pollinator for alfalfa.[2] They are known to perform a specialized technique for opening alfalfa flowers for pollination, by which the bee applies pressure to snap open the keel of the flower. Due to the bees' unusual nesting needs, farmers have developed ways to accommodate them.[3]

It is preyed upon by the conopid fly Zodion obliquefasciatum.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Nomia melanderi Cockerell, 1906". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. 
  2. ^ "...Nomia melanderi, sustainably managed to pollinate alfalfa ...", USDA
  3. ^ Moisset, Beatriz; Wojcik, Vicki. "The Alkali Bee (Nomia melanderi)". USDA Forest Service. 
  4. ^ Howell, J.F. (1967). "Biology of Zodion obliquefasciatum (Macq.) (Diptera: Conopidae) a parasite of the alkali bee, Nomia melanderi Ckll. (Hymenoptera: Halictidae)". Bulletin of the Washington Agriculture Experimental Station. 51: 1–33.