Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Hymenoptera

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Gum Bees.

Adults small to large; 4.5–15 mm long; very hairy; with branched or feathery hairs on the body. Solitary insects (not forming organised communities, but often nesting in colonies).

Head. Antennal segments (10–)12 (females), or (10–)13 (males). Antennae geniculate. Tongue shorter than the prementum; usually not pointed (broad and truncate, emarginate or rounded in all females and most males, pointed in a few males). Labial palps with all the segments similar in length and subcylindrical. Mentum and submentum present.

Thorax. 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; with the venation well developed. Closed fore-wing cells 6–10. Submarginal cells 2, or 3. 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, or colour-patterned; when concolorous, black or brown; when patterned, black-and-white, brown-and-white or black, white and brown. Ovipositor of females not visibly protruding; modified as a retractable sting.

Larvae. Larvae legless or the legs vestigial; feeding on material manufactured by the adults.

British representation. Species in Britain 20; only Colletes and Hylaeus, but these represented by nine subgenera.

Classification. Suborder Apocrita; Series Aculeata; Superfamily Apoidea.

Illustrations. • Colletes fodiens (Burrowing Colletes Bee: B. Ent. 85). • Colletes fodiens (detail: B. Ent. 85). • Colletes fodiens (dissections: B. Ent. 85). • Colletes fodiens: B. Ent. 85, legend+text. • Colletes fodiens: B. Ent. 85, text cont.. • Hylaeus annularis (Broad-horned Hylaeus): B. Ent. 373. • Hylaeus annularis: B. Ent. 373, legend+text. • Hylaeus annularis: B. Ent. 373, text cont.. • 4 Colletes species, with Eumenidae (Saunders XXII). • 6 Hylaeus species (Saunders XXIII).

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.’.