Currently viewing the category: "Cuckoo Bees"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Metallic Green Bee or Sweat Bee
Location: Toronto Canada
June 16, 2016 9:39 am
I have had a nest in my garden for about 6 years (it is a no dig zone). Thought I would share a photo with you. Great site! Have an awesome summer.
Signature: Scott Morrow

Metallic Green Sweat Bee and Nest

Metallic Green Sweat Bee and Nest

Dear Scott,
We love your image of a Metallic Sweat Bee hovering near her nest so much we are going to feature it this month.  According to BugGuide, Sweat Bees in the family Halictidae are:  “typically ground-nesters, with nests formed in clay soil, sandy banks of streams, etc. Most species are polylectic (collecting pollen from a variety of unrelated plants).”  We also want to commend you on your “no dig zone” which will protect the young that are developing in the nest.  We wish more of our readers were as sensitive to the environment as you are.

Wow…i am honoured!!
There is a ‘but’ though…I have been seeing small red and black bees landing on the nest site. To the best of my research they may be trying to attack the nest of the green bees (cleptoparasites I think they were called). I don’t like to alter how real life happens but I love my green bees…any suggestions?
Scott

Hi Scott
We are sorry to hear about your disappointment.  We are hoping you are able to provide an image of the “mall red and black bees.”  They sound like they might be members of the genus
Sphecodes, based on this BugGuide image.  According to BugGuide:  “Cleptoparasites, usually of other Halictinae.”

My apologies if it came across as being disappointed. I am very happy in fact.
I will try to get a picture but they are quite small and fast to fly away.
Thanks again.
Scott

Hi Scott,
Sometimes electronic communication leads to misunderstandings.  We interpreted your love for your green bees to mean you were disappointed that they were being Cleptoparasitized by the black and red relatives.  On a positive note, we doubt that all of the Green Sweat Bee young will be lost.  We eagerly await a potential image of the Cleptoparasite.

Update:  June 24, 2016
Hi Daniel
This is the best I managed to get. The Green Bee guard is blurred but can be seen in the centre of the photo.
Even though I love my Green Bees I will not harm or harass the red ones as this is what nature does.
Be well and have a great buggy summer.
Scott

Cleptoparasite Bee

Cleptoparasitic Cuckoo Bee

Hi Scott,
Thanks so much for the update.  We are confident that the red bee is a Sweat Bee in the genus
Sphecodes which is well represented on BugGuide, though we would not entirely rule out that it might be a Cuckoo Bee, Holcopasites calliopsidis, based on the images posted to Beautiful North American Bees.  That would take far more skill than our editorial staff possesses, though according to BugGuide it is a diminutive “5-6 mm”.  We will contact Eric Eaton to get his opinion.  While we feel for your affection for the Metallic Green Sweat Bees, we do not believe the presence of the red cleptoparasitic  Bees will decimate the population of the green bees.  Nature has a way of balancing out populations, and when food is plentiful, populations flourish.  Your “no dig zone” is diversifying in its inhabitants.  To add further information on cleptoparasitism, we turn to BugGuide where it defines:  “cleptoparasite (also kleptoparasite) noun – an organism that lives off of another by stealing its food, rather than feeding on it directly. (In some cases this may result in the death of a host, for example, if the larvae of the host are thereby denied food.”

Correction Courtesy of Eric Eaton
Daniel:
The cleptoparasite is a Nomada sp. cuckoo bee.  The host bee is Agapostemon virescens, by the way.  Never seen a turret on their nest entrance that was so tall!  Nomada is a genus in the family Apidae (formerly Anthophoridae).
Eric

Ed. Note:  When we first responded to the Cleptoparasite response, we suspected we might be dealing with a Cuckoo Bee and we prepared a response with BugGuide quotes including “Wasp-like, often red or red and black and often with yellow integumental markings” and “cleptoparasites of various bees, primarily Andrena but also Agapostemon and Eucera (Synhalonia) (these are usually larger than the Andrena cleptoparasites). (J.S. Ascher, 23.iv.2008)  males mimic the specific odors of the host females and patrol the host nest site.”  We were going to console Scott with the information that his Green Sweat Bees were most likely being scoped out by male Cuckoo Bees who had not net mated with a female, the real cleptoparasite.  Next time we will trust our first impression.

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Is This a Yellow Jacket?
Location: Tacoma, WA
June 7, 2016 5:07 pm
Due to a bee hive having been completely destroyed last Summer, I have been more attentive to Yellow Jackets this Spring. This one I am having trouble finding information on. The 3 pictures attached are all I”m able to get, as they seldom touch down long enough to focus on. Generally, they move around constantly. So far I have only seen them in the Thyme. They look and fly like Yellow Jackets, but they are tiny, less than half the size, maybe 8-10mm. It also has a large, light colored eye more like a sweat bee.
Signature: Ralph

Ant Queen Kidnapping Wasp

Cuckoo Bee

Dear Ralph,
We are very excited about your submission.  This is NOT a Yellowjacket.  If our identification is correct, this is a new species and a new subcategory for our site, but it also has one of the best names we have ever heard for an insect.  Based on this BugGuide submission, we believe this is an Ant Queen Kidnapping Wasp,
Aphilanthops hispidus.  Of the genus, BugGuide states:  “Nest in ground” and “nests provisioned with winged queen ants.”  There are not many images on the internet, but we did locate this image of a mounted specimen on EncicloVida.  Of a related species in the same genus, BugGuide states:  “Nests are dug in sandy, pebbly soil to a depth of 45 cm. Sometimes form aggregate colonies of 25 to 60 females, especially on sandy slopes with entrances as close as 2 cm apart. Winged queen ants are captured when wandering on the ground, stung and carried to nests with ant antenna between wasp mandibles and rest of body held between the legs. In the nest tunnel, wings are removed and ants are stored near entrance in a cell until individual egg cells are dug. Storage is necessary due to the short flight cycle of winged ants. Females possibly can lay only one egg per day (Evans, 1962). Usually 2 to 3 ants are used in each cell. One generation per year.”  We are postdating your submission to go live tomorrow as we are preparing for a holiday away from the office.

Ant Queen Kidnapping Wasp

Cuckoo Bee

UPDATE:  June 17, 2016 Eric Eaton provides a correction
Hi, Daniel:
Great images, but they depict a cuckoo bee, Nomada sp., not a wasp.
Cheers,
Eric

Ant Queen Kidnapping Wasp

Cuckoo Bee, NOT Ant Queen Kidnapping Wasp

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: small insect on marjoram
Location: Cardiff, Wales, UK
September 21, 2015 2:12 am
Hi, I photographed this insect on a marjoram plant in the wales, UK, and can’t find anything that looks like it in my Collins guide. It seems to have short stubby wings and a long body This photo was taken using a 1:1 macro lens to give you an idea of scale, and the marjoram flowers are probably 2-5mm across. Any idea as to what it is would be gratefully received!
many thanks
Signature: chris stock

Possibly Cuckoo Bee

Possibly Cuckoo Bee

Dear Chris,
Our best guess at this time is that this might be a Cuckoo Bee in the genus
Nomada, and of Nomada ferruginata, Nature Spot states: “This Nomada bee has a red abdomen with yellow flashes at the sides. It has dull yellow legs with dark femora. It lacks stripes on the thorax and has a pair of bright yellow tubercles on the pronotum near to the wing bases.”

Many thanks for your help, what a fantastic website/resource!
all the best
chris

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: cuckoo bee
Location: courtice ontario
August 8, 2015 12:59 pm
Hi again
sending this pic but I am pretty sure it is a cuckoo bee.
Signature: terri

Cuckoo Bee

Cuckoo Leafcutter Bee

Hi Terri,
Thanks for sending us more wonderful images, and using our standard form makes things so much easier for us.  We went on BugGuide to verify your identification, and though we tried, we could not find any images that look quite like your Cuckoo Bee.  The position it is resting in is quite different from anything on we found, though the images of the members of the Tribe Epeolini on BugGuide are the closest visual match to your individual.  We wonder if perhaps your images were taken early in the morning after the Cuckoo Bee had spent the night inactive, and that the heat of the day had still not warmed it to the point of activity.  If possible, can you please cite the source that led to your original identification along with any relevant links?

Cuckoo Bee

Cuckoo Leafcutter Bee

Hi Daniel
I did not really know for sure a friend of mine who takes photos of insects as well said it was a cuckoo bee and I took his word for it.
It was very early in the morning the tend to sleep at the top of grass or sticks and they wake up slowly so they are easy to photograph.
There were here the month of june and july but I have not found any lately in the month of august.
I was lucky I could take the photo wait for the sun to rise enough until they become active. They clean themselves and take off  to start the  day.
Thanks so much Terri
I am sending a few more photos here so you can see how he hangs upright on the twig

Cuckoo Leafcutter Bee

Cuckoo Leafcutter Bee

Eric Eaton Confirms
Wow!  That is a female cuckoo leafcutter bee, Coelioxys sp.  Can’t tell more because I’m not sure how to identify these to species, or if it is even possible from images alone.  They are cleptoparasites of real leafcutter bees.
Eric
author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America
http://bugeric.blogspot.com/

Cuckoo Leafcutter Bee

Cuckoo Leafcutter Bee

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Black and Blue insect
Location: Canberra Botanic gardens
January 29, 2013 11:00 pm
Was gathering pollen the same as bee’s
Signature: not signed

Neon Cuckoo Bee

This appears to be a Neon Cuckoo Bee, Thyreus nitidulus, which we identified on the Brisbane Insect website.  According the the Brisbane Insect website:  “The Neon Cuckoo Bee are cleptoparasitic in the nest of Amegilla sp.. Neon Cuckoo Bee female does not make its own nest. It lays egg in the nest of Blue-banded bee. Female places an egg in a partially completed brood cell. After the blue-banded bee finishes provision and seals the brood cell, the cuckoo bee egg hatches into larvae and feeds on the provisions stored by Blue-banded bee. ”  This is a new species for our site.

Thank you Daniel. Only wish the pic came out better.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination