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The alkali bee is a member of the large and diverse Halictidae family of bees, which includes several genera and several hundred species worldwide. Some halictid species are commonly known as "sweat bees" because they are attracted to the salts in perspiration. Nearly the size of the honey bee, the alkali bee is black with iridescent green, yellow, or blue stripes on the abdomen of both sexes. Males are distinguishable from females by their larger antennae. All halictid bees are pollen feeders and may be important pollinators of both wild and cultivated plants. The alkali bee has become commercially important because it is an efficient pollinator of alfalfa. Halictid bees are generally not aggressive and only sting when swatted or startled.