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Xylocopa micans.JPG
Xylocopa micans (a carpenter bee), on a Vitex species flower
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Superfamily: Apoidea
Clade: Anthophila
Family: Apidae
Latreille, 1802
Type genus
Linnaeus, 1758

Honey bees, bumblebees, stingless bees, orchid bees and others


Cuckoo bees

Carpenter bees

Apidae is the largest family within the superfamily Apoidea, containing at least 5700 species of bees. The family includes some of the most commonly seen bees, including bumblebees and honey bees, but also includes stingless bees (also used for honey production), carpenter bees, orchid bees, cuckoo bees, and a number of other less widely known groups. [1] [2] Many are valuable pollinators in natural habitats and for agricultural crops. [3]


In addition to its historical classification (honey bees, bumble bees, stingless bees and orchid bees), the family Apidae presently includes all the genera formerly placed in the families Anthophoridae and Ctenoplectridae. [3] Although the most visible members of Apidae are social, the vast majority of apid bees are solitary, including a number of cleptoparasitic species. [4]

The old family Apidae contained four tribes (Apinae: Apini, Euglossini and Bombinae: Bombini, Meliponini) which have been reclassified as tribes of the subfamily Apinae, along with all of the former tribes and subfamilies of Anthophoridae and the former family Ctenoplectridae, which was demoted to tribe status. The trend to move groups down in taxonomic rank has been taken further by a 2005 Brazilian classification that places all existing bee families together under the name "Apidae", [5] but it has not been widely accepted in the literature since that time.



Amegilla cingulata--a subfamily Apinae digger bee species, of Australian blue banded bees, approaching tomato flower Blue banded bee02.jpg
Amegilla cingulata —a subfamily Apinae digger bee species, of Australian blue banded bees, approaching tomato flower

The subfamily Apinae contains honey bees, bumblebees, stingless bees, orchid bees, and digger bees, among others. The bees of most tribes placed in Apinae are solitary with nests that are simple burrows in the soil. However, honey bees, stingless bees, and bumblebees are eusocial or colonial. These are sometimes believed to have each developed this trait independently, and show notable differences in such characteristics as communication between workers and methods of nest construction.

Tribes include: [2]


Subfamily Nomadinae cuckoo bee species, on flower. 34141973nomad.w.jpg
Subfamily Nomadinae cuckoo bee species, on flower.

The subfamily Nomadinae, or cuckoo bees, has 31 genera in 10 tribes which are all cleptoparasites in the nests of other bees.

Tribes include: [2]


Xylocopa violacea--a subfamily Xylocopinae carpenter bee, on flower. Bee September 2007-6.jpg
Xylocopa violacea —a subfamily Xylocopinae carpenter bee, on flower.

The subfamily Xylocopinae, which includes carpenter bees, are mostly solitary, though they tend to be gregarious. Some tribe lineages, such as the Allodapini, contain eusocial species.

Most members of this subfamily make nests in plant stems or wood.

Tribes include: [2]

See also

Related Research Articles

Bee Clade of insects

Bees are insects with wings closely related to wasps and ants, known for their role in pollination and, in the case of the best-known bee species, the western honey bee, for producing honey. Bees are a monophyletic lineage within the superfamily Apoidea. They are presently considered a clade, called Anthophila. There are over 16,000 known species of bees in seven recognized biological families. Some species – including honey bees, bumblebees, and stingless bees – live socially in colonies while most species (>90%) – including mason bees, carpenter bees, leafcutter bees, and sweat bees – are solitary.

Bumblebee Genus of insect

A bumblebee is any of over 250 species in the genus Bombus, part of Apidae, one of the bee families. This genus is the only extant group in the tribe Bombini, though a few extinct related genera are known from fossils. They are found primarily in higher altitudes or latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere, although they are also found in South America, where a few lowland tropical species have been identified. European bumblebees have also been introduced to New Zealand and Tasmania. Female bumblebees can sting repeatedly, but generally ignore humans and other animals.

Pollen basket

The pollen basket or corbicula is part of the tibia on the hind legs of certain species of bees. They use the structure in harvesting pollen and carrying it to the nest or hive. Other species of bees have scopae instead.

Euglossini Tribe of bees

The tribe Euglossini, in the subfamily Apinae, commonly known as orchid bees or euglossine bees, are the only group of corbiculate bees whose non-parasitic members do not all possess eusocial behavior.

Apinae Subfamily of bees in the family Apidae

The Apinae are the subfamily that includes the majority of bees in the family Apidae. It includes the familiar "corbiculate" bees—bumblebees, honey bees, orchid bees, stingless bees, and the extinct genus Euglossopteryx. It also includes all but two of the groups that were previously classified in the family Anthophoridae.

<i>Bombus sylvestris</i> Species of bee

Bombus sylvestris, known as the forest cuckoo bumblebee or four-coloured cuckoo bee, is a species of cuckoo bumblebee, found in most of Europe and Russia. Its main hosts are Bombus pratorum, Bombus jonellus, and Bombus monticola. As a cuckoo bumblebee, Bombus sylvestris lays its eggs in another bumblebee's nest. This type of bee leaves their young to the workers of another nest for rearing, allowing cuckoo bumblebees to invest minimal energy and resources in their young while still keeping the survival of their young intact.

<i>Tetragonula carbonaria</i> Species of bee

Tetragonula carbonaria is a stingless bee, endemic to the north-east coast of Australia. Its common name is sugarbag bee. They are also occasionally referred to as bush bees. The bee is known to pollinate orchid species, such as Dendrobium lichenastrum, D. toressae, and D. speciosum. It has been identified as an insect that collects pollen from the cycad Cycas media. They are also known for their small body size, reduced wing venation, and highly developed social structure comparable to honey bees.

<i>Bombus fervidus</i> Species of bee

Bombus fervidus, the golden northern bumble bee or yellow bumblebee, is a species of bumblebee native to North America. It has a yellow-colored abdomen and thorax. Its range includes the North American continent, excluding much of the southern United States, Alaska, and the northern parts of Canada. It is common in cities and farmland, with populations concentrated in the Northeastern part of the United States. It is similar in color and range to the American bumblebee and black and gold bumblebee. It has complex behavioral traits, which includes a coordinated nest defense to ward off predators. B. fervidus is an important pollinator, so recent population decline is a particular concern.

<i>Tetragonisca angustula</i> Species of bee

Tetragonisca angustula is a small eusocial stingless bee found in México, Central and South America. It is known by a variety of names in different regions. A subspecies, Tetragonisca angustula fiebrigi, occupies different areas in South America and has a slightly different coloration.

<i>Eucera</i> Genus of bees

Eucera is a genus of bees in the family Apidae, subfamily Apinae, and tribe Eucerini – the long-horned bees.

<i>Euglossa hyacinthina</i> Species of bee

Euglossa hyacinthina, is a species of the orchid bee tribe Euglossini in the family Apidae. With a tongue that can get up to as long as 4 cm, this orchid bee species is found in Central America. Living in a neotropical climate, E.hyacinthina has adapted to hot and humid weather. The bee has darkly shaded, translucent wings and a metallic, glossy blue skeleton.

<i>Eulaema meriana</i> Species of bee

Eulaema meriana is a large-bodied bee species in the tribe Euglossini, otherwise known as the orchid bees. The species is a solitary bee and is native to tropical Central and South America. The male collects fragrances from orchid flowers, which it stores in hollows in its hind legs. Orchids can be deceptive by mimicking the form of a female and her sex pheromone, thus luring male bees or wasps. Pollination will take place as the males attempt to mate with the labellum, or the tip petal of the flower. Male E. meriana are territorial and have a particular perch on a tree trunk where it displays to attract a female. After mating, the female builds a nest with urn-shaped cells made with mud, feces, and plant resin, and provisions these with nectar and pollen before laying an egg in each. These bees also have complex foraging and wing buzzing behaviors and are part of a mimicry complex.

<i>Ptilothrix</i> Genus of bees

Ptilothrix is a genus within the tribe Emphorini of the family Apidae. Bees of this genus can range from 7 to 15 millimeters. Ptilothrix species are solitary ground nesting bees. The genus has especially prominent hairs in the scopae of their hind legs, to help gather pollen to provision their nests. Ptilothrix specialize on certain families of plants for their pollen, including the families Malvaceae, Convolvulaceae, Onagraceae, Cactaceae, Pontederiaceae and Asteraceae. The genus is found in the new world, with species ranging from North to South America.

<i>Tetragonula iridipennis</i> Species of bee

The Indian stingless bee or dammar bee, Tetragonula iridipennis, is a species of bee belonging to the family Apidae, subfamily Apinae. It was first described by Frederick Smith in 1854 who found the species in what is now the island of Sri Lanka. Many older references erroneously placed this species in Melipona, an unrelated genus from the New World, and until recently it was placed in Trigona, therefore still often mistakenly referred to as Trigona iridipennis. For centuries, colonies of T. iridipennis have been kept in objects such as clay pots so that their highly prized medicinal honey can be utilized.

<i>Bombus cerdanyensis</i> Extinct species of bee

Bombus cerdanyensis is an extinct species of bumble bee in the family Apidae known from a fossil found in Europe.

<i>Euglossa cordata</i> Species of bee

Euglossa cordata is a primitively eusocial orchid bee of the American tropics. The species is known for its green body color and ability to fly distances of over 50 km. Males mostly disperse and leave their home nests, while females have been observed to possess philopatric behavior. Because of this, sightings are rare and little is known about the species. However, it has been observed that adults who pollinate certain species of orchids will become intoxicated during the pollination.

<i>Melipona bicolor</i> Species of bee

Melipona bicolorLepeletier, 1836, commonly known as Guaraipo or Guarupu, is a eusocial bee found primarily in South America. It is an inhabitant of the Araucaria Forest and the Atlantic Rainforest, and is most commonly found from South to East Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, and Paraguay. It prefers to nest close to the soil, in hollowed trunks or roots of trees. M. bicolor is a member of the tribe Meliponini, and is therefore a stingless bee. This species is unique among the stingless bees species because it is polygynous, which is rare for eusocial bees.

<i>Melipona quadrifasciata</i> Species of bee

Melipona quadrifasciata is a species of eusocial, stingless bee of the order Hymenoptera. It is native to the southeastern coastal states of Brazil, where it is more commonly known as mandaçaia, which means "beautiful guard," as there is always a bee at the narrow entrance of the nest. M. quadrifasciata constructs mud hives in the hollows of trees to create thin passages that only allow one bee to pass at a time. Because they are stingless bees, M. quadrifasciata is often used as pollinators in greenhouses, outperforming honey bees in efficiency and leading to overall larger yields of fruits that were heavier, larger, and contained more seeds.

<i>Lestrimelitta limao</i> Species of bee

Lestrimelitta limao is a neotropical eusocial bee species found in Brazil and Panama and is part of the Apidae family. It is a species of stingless bees that practices obligate nest robbing. They have never been spotted foraging from flowers, an observation that supports their raiding behavior. Because of their lack of hind corbiculae, they must raid to obtain enough protein in their diet in the form of pollen and nectar. Lestrimelitta limao secrete a lemon-scented alarm allomone, from which they receive their name, in order to conduct successful raids. L. limao are hypothesized to produce poisonous honey that is toxic if consumed by humans. Because robber bees are so rare and difficult to observe, there is a limited scope of information available.

<i>Euglossopteryx</i> Extinct genus of bees

Euglossopteryx is an extinct genus of bee in the family Apidae known from a fossil found in North America. There is one described species in the genus, Euglossopteryx biesmeijeri.


  1. Danforth, Bryan N.; Cardinal, Sophie; Praz, Christophe; Almeida, Eduardo A.B.; Michez, Denis (2013). "The Impact of Molecular Data on Our Understanding of Bee Phylogeny and Evolution". Annual Review of Entomology. 58 (1): 57–78. doi:10.1146/annurev-ento-120811-153633. ISSN   0066-4170. PMID   22934982.
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