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Female Tetraloniella sp edit1.jpg
Female Tetraloniella sp.
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Apidae
Subfamily: Apinae
Latreille, 1802

The Apinae are the subfamily that includes the majority of bees in the family Apidae. It includes the familiar "corbiculate" (pollen basket) bees—bumblebees, honey bees, orchid bees, stingless bees, and the extinct genus Euglossopteryx . [1] It also includes all but two of the groups (excluding Nomadinae and Xylocopinae) that were previously classified in the family Anthophoridae.


Most species in the subfamily (other than honey bees, bumblebees, and stingless bees) are solitary, though several of the tribes are entirely cleptoparasitic, such as the Ericrocidini, Isepeolini, Melectini, Osirini, Protepeolini, and Rhathymini.


Certain behaviors are known from members of the Apinae that are rarely seen in other bees, including the habit of males forming "sleeping aggregations" on vegetation - several males gathering on a single plant in the evening, grasping a plant with their jaws and resting there through the night (sometimes held in place only by the jaws, with the legs dangling free in space).

Also known from Apinae is the habit of gathering floral oils instead of pollen for use as a larval food; this behavior is otherwise known only from a few lineages in the family Melittidae.

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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.

Honey bee Eusocial flying insect of genus Apis, producing surplus honey

A honey bee is a eusocial flying insect within the genus Apis of the bee clade, all native to Eurasia. They are known for their construction of perennial colonial nests from wax, the large size of their colonies, and surplus production and storage of honey, distinguishing their hives as a prized foraging target of many animals, including honey badgers, bears and human hunter-gatherers. Only eight surviving species of honey bee are recognized, with a total of 43 subspecies, though historically 7 to 11 species are recognized. Honey bees represent only a small fraction of the roughly 20,000 known species of bees.

Pollinator Animal that moves pollen from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma of a flower

A pollinator is an animal that moves pollen from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma of a flower. This helps to bring about fertilization of the ovules in the flower by the male gametes from the pollen grains.

Apidae Taxonomic family that includes honey bees (sting or stingless), bumble bees and orchid 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, carpenter bees, orchid bees, cuckoo bees, and a number of other less widely known groups. Many are valuable pollinators in natural habitats and for agricultural crops.

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.

Stingless bee tribe of bees with reduced stingers, but strong bites

Stingless bees, sometimes called stingless honey bees or simply meliponines, are a large group of bees, comprising the tribe Meliponini. They belong in the family Apidae, and are closely related to common honey bees, carpenter bees, orchid bees, and bumblebees. Meliponines have stingers, but they are highly reduced and cannot be used for defense, though these bees exhibit other defensive behaviors and mechanisms. Meliponines are not the only type of "stingless" bee; all male bees and many female bees of several other families, such as Andrenidae, also cannot sting. Some stingless bees have painful and powerful bites.

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.

<i>Apis nigrocincta</i> Species of bee

Apis nigrocincta is a species of honey bee that inhabits the Philippine island of Mindanao as well as the Indonesian islands of Sangihe and Sulawesi. The species is known to have queens with the highest mating frequencies of any species of the tribe Apini.

<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>Trigona spinipes</i> Species of bee

Trigona spinipes is a species of stingless bee. It occurs in Brazil, where it is called arapuá, aripuá, irapuá, japurá or abelha-cachorro ("dog-bee"). The species name means "spiny feet" in Latin. Trigona spinipes builds its nest on trees, out of mud, resin, wax, and assorted debris, including dung. Therefore, its honey is not fit for consumption, even though it is reputed to be of good quality by itself, and is used in folk medicine. Colonies may have from 5,000 to over 100,000 workers.

<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>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>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>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>Trigona corvina</i> Species of bee

Trigona corvina is a species of stingless bee that lives primarily in Central and South America. In Panama, they are sometimes known as zagañas. They live in protective nests high in the trees, but they can be extremely aggressive and territorial over their resources. They use their pheromones to protect their food sources and to signal their location to nest mates. This black stingless bees of the tribe Meliponini can be parasitic toward citrus trees but also helpful for crop pollination.

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

Melipona subnitida is a neotropical bee species in the Apidae family found in the dry areas of Northeastern Brazil. This species of stingless bees practices single mating, monogynous habits.

<i>Trigona fuscipennis</i> Species of bee

Trigona fuscipennis is a stingless bee species that originates in Mexico but is also found in Central and South America. They are an advanced eusocial group of bees and play a key role as pollinators in wet rainforests. The species has many common names, including mapaitero, sanharó, abelha-brava, xnuk, k'uris-kab, enreda, corta-cabelo, currunchos, zagaño, and enredapelos.


  1. Dehon, M.; Michez, D.; Nel, A.; Engel, M. S.; De Meulemeester, T. (2014). "Wing Shape of Four New Bee Fossils (Hymenoptera: Anthophila) Provides Insights to Bee Evolution". PLOS ONE. 9 (10): 1–16. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0108865 . PMC   4212905 . PMID   25354170.