Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Hymenoptera

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Flower Potter Bees, Homeless Bees, Cuckoo Bees.

Adults small to large; (5–)6–16 mm long; very hairy; with branched or feathery hairs on the body. Solitary insects (although the independent burrows are often constructed side by side); the adult populations comprising males and fertile females only.

Head. Antennal segments (10–)12 (females), or (10–)13 (males). Antennae geniculate, or not geniculate. The labrum broader than long. Tongue longer than the prementum; pointed. Labial palps with segments 1 and 2 much longer than the distal two, and flattened.

Thorax. Thorax black, brown, reddish-brown, black-and-yellow or black-and grey. Pronotum more or less straight at the back; short, not extending back to the tegulae. Cenchri absent. Wings present. Fore-wings with a conspicuous pterostigma, or without a pterostigma (generally not very conspicuous); with the venation well developed. Closed fore-wing cells 6–10. Submarginal cells 2 (a few), or 3 (mostly). Discoidal cells 2. Hind-wings with closed cells. Hind femur without a well defined trochantellus. Hind tibiae with spurs specialised for a cleaning rôle. Hind basitarsi wider than the other segments.

Abdomen. The abdomen with a marked basal constriction; short-waisted. The ‘waist’ simple. Visible abdominal segments 6 (females), or 7 (males). The gaster concolorous (rarely), or colour-patterned; when concolorous, black or brown; when patterned, black-and yellow, black-and-grey, black-and-brown or reddish brown, black-and-orange, or black, yellow and orange. Ovipositor of females not visibly protruding; modified as a retractable sting.

Larvae. Larvae legless or the legs vestigial; socially parasitic on hosts selected by the mother and predacious (Nomada and Melecta, feeding on stored food, eggs and larvae in the cells of Andrenidae and other Anthophoridae, respectively), or feeding on material manufactured by the adults.

British representation. Species in Britain about 40; Anthophora, Epeolus, Eucera, Melecta, Nomada.

Classification. Suborder Apocrita; Series Aculeata; Superfamily Apoidea.

Illustrations. • Melecta albifrons (Spotted Melecta: B. Ent. 125). • Melecta albifrons (detail: B. Ent. 125). • Melecta albifrons (dissections: B. Ent. 125). • Melecta albifrons: B. Ent. 125, legend+text. • Melecta albifrons: B. Ent. 125, text cont.. • Anthophora retusa (Haworthian Bee: B. Ent. 357). • Anthophora retusa (detail: B. Ent. 357). • Anthophora retusa (dissections: B. Ent. 357). • Anthophora retusa: B. Ent. 357, legend+text. • Anthophora retusa: B. Ent. 357, text cont.. • Epeolus variegatus (B. Ent. 516). • Epeolus variegatus: B. Ent. 516, legend+text. • Epeolus variegatus: B. Ent. 516, text cont.. • Nomada armata (Herr. Schaf.), as Nomada kirbyella Stephens. Stephens 1846. • Nomada sheppardana (Charmouth Wasp-bee: B. Ent. 419). • Nomada sheppardana (detail: B. Ent. 419). • Nomada sheppardana (dissections: B. Ent. 419). • Nomada sheppardana: B. Ent. 419, legend+text. • Nomada sheppardana: B. Ent. 419, text cont.. • Anthophora bimaculata (Two-spotted Saropoda: B. Ent. 361). • Anthophora bimaculata: B. Ent. 361, legend+text. • Anthophora bimaculata: B. Ent. 361, text cont.. • Nomada fucata, and Nomada rufipes (Saunders XXXVI). • 6 Nomada species (Saunders XXXVII). N. lathburiana (f). • 5 Nomada species (Saunders XXXVIII). • 7 Nomada species (Saunders XXXIX). • Epeolus cruciger, E. variegatus (Saunders XL). • Anthophora and Melecta species, Eucera (Saunders XLV). • 6 Anthophora species (Saunders XLXI). • Nomada kirbyella Stephens: Stephens 1846.

To view the illustrations with detailed captions, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, and distributions of character states within any set of taxa.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2003 onwards. Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Hymenoptera. Version: 16th May 2016.’.