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					Big Bees – Part 1
• This presentation has been put together by a
  consortium of North American bee biologists
• This presentation has developed over many
  years and the original web picture
  acknowledgements were lost, if you see one of
  your pictures let us know and we will add your
  picture credit
• Correspondence can be sent to Sam Droege at
• Each Genus has an information page
  followed by a page of illustrations and a
  map of the distribution of Eastern North
  American species; western populations of
  Eastern species are shown, but the
  Western species are not mapped.
• The number of Eastern species are listed
  at the top of the page
    Apidae         (Recently Combined with Anthophoridae)
                       Groups of Genera
Covered in this                Covered in Apidae part 2
                               •   Peponapis - 1
•   Anthophora – 6 species     •   Xenoglossa - 2
•   Melecta - 1                •   Apis - 1
•   Habropoda - 1              •   Bombus - 20
•   Holcopasites - 3           •   Anthophorula - 2
•   Neolarra - 1               •   Exomalopsis - 1
•   Nomada - 80                •   Eucera - 7
•   Centris – 3                •   Florilegus - 1
•   Ericrocis - 1              •   Melissodes – 27
•   Ptilothrix – 1             •   Triepeolus - 23
•   Cemolobus - 1              •   Epeolus - 20
•   Xylocopa – 2               •   Melitoma - 1
•   Ceratina – 4               •   Svastra - 5
•   Euglossa - 1               •   Tetraloniella - 2
•   Epeoloides – 1             •   Xeromelecta - 2
• Large, bumblebee in size, shape, and often coloration, can be found
  from Spring through Fall
• Lacks the bare patch (corbicula) found on the tibia of Bombus
• Often nests in aggregations in the ground, in banks of dirt, or
  earthen homes
• Interior cells of the forewing without the abundant small hairs
  common in most of the other large species (except Habropoda and
  Melecta). These hairs most readily visible by sighting across the
  plane of the wing
• Told from Habropoda by the shape of the marginal and submarginal
• A recently introduced European species, Anthophora plumipes,
  expected to spread widely
• Similar genera: Melecta, Xeromelecta, Florilegus, Tetraloniella,
  Melissodes, Svastra, Peponapis, Melitoma, Eucera
Anthophora - 6
• About the size of a medium bumblebee and similar in
• Rare nest parasite of Anthophora
• Marginal cell unusually short, its length only about as
  long as the end of the marginal cells
• Similar to Anthophora in that it has no minute hairs on
  the surface of the front wing’s interior cells
• Female has no pollen carrying hairs
• Similar genera: Xeromelecta, Anthophora, Tetraloniella,
  Svastra, Eucera, Melissodes, Melitoma, Florilegus,
  Peponapis, Xenoglossa, Cemolobus
Melecta pacifica– Parasite of
        Anthophora       Rare
• Uncommon, the size of small bumblebee,
  prefers ericaceous shrubs
• Usually associated with sandy areas
• Female looks very bumblebee like, male has
  bright yellow/ivory facial markings
• Like Anthophora and Melecta the interior of the
  front wing’s cells are nearly hairless
• Shape of the wing cells separates this species
  from Anthophora
• Similar genera: Anthophora
Habropoda laboriosa
• Uncommon to rare nest parasite of Calliopsis,
  tiny, just a few millimeters long
• The only genus where the male has 12 not the
  usual 13 antennal segments
• Abdomens are red with bright white patches of
  very short, prone hair, often in small regular
• Note that the tip of the marginal cell is clearly
  pulled away from the margin of the wing
• Similar genera: None
Holcopasites – 3

  Male antennae
  = 12
• Very rare (no specimens seen recently in
  the East), nest parasite of Perdita
• Only genus with 1 submarginal cell
• Sometimes small members of the closely
  related (to bees) Sphecid wasp genus
  Oxybelus are mistaken for this genus
• An effort should be made to look for this
  species in Perdita areas
• Similar genera: None
        Neolarra – Perdita Parasite - 1

Super small, super
rare, 1 submarginal
• Common, nest parasite of Andrena and a few other genera, almost
  always some striking pattern of yellow, red, and black
• Most species are found in the spring but a few are found in the
  Summer and Fall
• Often mistaken for wasps due to the general lack of hair and thin
  wasp-like appearance
• Many species are in taxonomic limbo with unassociated males and
  females, poor descriptions, and recent molecular work indicating
  that there are more species present in the bidentate and white-
  spined groups than there are currently names…expect quite a
  number of changes over the coming few years
• Jugal lobe unusually short only one-sixth the size of the vannal lobe
  or less
• Similar genera: Sphecodes
Nomada – Andrena Parasite - 80

        lots of red
        or yellow
• Size of small bumblebees, restricted to Florida,
  native species are uncommon to rare, an
  introduced species is becoming common in
  South Florida
• Females are pollen specialists on only a few
  plant genera
• Both the males and females have very robust
  rear legs, covered in thick hair
• Wing venation important, note the very small
  stigma and the shape of the submarginal cells
• Similar genera: Bombus, Ptilothrix, Xylocopa
Centris - 3 - Go to Florida
• Extremely rare, restricted to Florida, no recent specimen
  records, nest parasite of Centris
• A dramatic looking bee, most similar to Xeromelecta,
  has prominent patches of light hair on the abdomen and
  thorax and a distinctly pointed rear of the abdomen
• Instead of the usual pointed tibial spur on the middle leg
  found on most bees, their tibial spurs are slightly
  broadened at the tip which is notched or has small
• An effort should be made to see if this species still exists
  in Florida
• Similar genera: Epeolus, Triepolus, Epeoloides
Ericrocis lata – Centris parasite
      Florida species, very rare
• Common early to mid-Summer species, most often
  found along marsh edge habitats and urban areas
  (where garden plants in the mallow family have been
• Pollen specialist on Hibiscus, size of a medium
  bumblebee, to which it closely resembles and is
  mistaken for
• Has no arolium (pad) between its tarsal claws
• Similar genera: Bombus, Xylocopa
Ptilothrix bombiformis
• Rare, size of a medium bumblebee
• Unique in that the rim of the clypeus is not
  smooth but has three lobes, the central one wide
  and thick, the lateral ones more knob-like. The
  other Eucerines have uninterrupted clypeal rims
• Pollen specialist on morning glories (Ipomoea)
• Similar genera: Melitoma, Anthophora, Eucera,
  Melissodes, Tetraloniella, Melecta, Xeromelecta,
  Peponapis, Svastra, Florilegus
Cemolobus ipomoeae – Morning
      Glory Specialist

                      Rare, Size of
                      Eucera, Looks like
                      that group too
• Regularly occurring species, but nowhere
  abundant, a bit larger than a honeybee
• Hind wing venation is used to separate this
  genus in the guides, but the combination of the
  distinctive coloration and hair patterns along with
  the extremely long tongue (extending to the
  abdomen even when folded) works
• Similar genera: Melecta, Xeromelecta,
  Anthophora, Xenoglossa, Peponapis, Florilegus,
  Melissodes, Eucera, Svastra, Tetraloniella,
Melitoma taurea – Morning
      Glory Specialist Tongue extends to
                             abdomen, even when
• Common, the size of large bumblebees
• Told from bumblebees in the field by the combination of
  all black abdomen (X. virginica has sparse but uniform
  yellow hairs at the base of the abdomen) and that those
  hairs present on the abdomen are sparse enough to
  clearly see the shining integument (skin) below
• Males with a white spot on their face, females dark
• When resting hold their wings splayed some to the sides
  (resembling swept-back jet fighter wings), not neatly
  overlapped down the back like bumblebees
• Under the microscope the unusually long and narrow
  marginal cell is distinctive
• Similar genera: Bombus, Ptilothrix
Xylocopa - 2 – Carpenter Bees
• Size of a single long-grain rice kernel
• Dark metallic blue (often appearing black) with a
  prominent white mark on the clypeus
• Skinny, lacks obvious hair, abdomen parallel-sided and
  ribbed like a plastic water bottle
• Tip of abdomen with a small projecting point
• Often holds its abdomen more upright than other genera
• Easier to tell by learning the general shape and
  coloration of the clypeus than keying out
• Similar genera: None, although many Osmia are about
  the same color
   Ceratina - 4
Small Carpenter Bee

               Common, pith
• One introduced species that is becoming
  common in certain parts of southern
• Bright green, lacks the wing venation of
  the other bright green bees in the area (all
• Has extremely long tongue and rear legs
  with prominent projecting flanges
• Similar genera: None
Euglossa viridissima

   Recent introduction
   into Florida
• Extremely rare, however there are recent
  records from Connecticut and the
• A little bit smaller than a honeybee
• Nest parasite of Macropis
• Different looking than other bees, but
  should key out easily
• Similar genera:Triepeolus, Epeolus,
Epeoloides pilosula – Parasite of

              Very rare,
• Species lists, Identification Guides, and Maps for
  genera and species are available at:
• A guide to the genera of the bees of Canada is
  available at:
• Mitchell’s 1960’s book on the bees of the Eastern
  United States is available as a series of pdf files at:
• A slightly out of date guide to the identification of the
  genera of ALL of North America is available at:

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