Animal Species:Cuckoo bees

Cuckoo bees do not build their own nests.

Specimen of a Cuckoo Bee

Andrew Donnelly © Australian Museum

Standard Common Name

Cuckoo bees

Identification

The Neon Cuckoo Bee is probably the most distinctive of Sydney's cuckoo bee species. It has an iridescent blue and black colouration and stands out clearly in sunlight. The wings are light brown with a purple sheen.

Size range

1 cm - 1.4 cm

Distribution

Cuckoo bees are found throughout most of Australia.

Habitat

Cuckoo bees live in urban areas, forests and woodlands, and heath.

Life cycle

Cuckoo bees do not build their own nests. Like the cuckoo birds that get another species to raise their young, these bees lay their eggs in other bees' nests. Usually a female cuckoo bee stalks the nest of a blue-banded bee, and tries to sneak into it during construction of the cell intended for the nest-owner's egg. If she can go undetected while the female blue-banded bee is busy preparing food and shelter for her own young, the female cuckoo bee will also lay an egg in the cell. When the cell is sealed by the nest-owner, the egg of the cuckoo bee hatches and the larva eats all the nectar/pollen provisions. It then spins a cocoon and pupates. When the blue-banded bee larva emerges, there is no food left and it dies.

Classification

Genus:
Thyreus
Subfamily:
Apinae
Family:
Apidae
Superfamily:
Apoidea
Suborder:
Apocrita
Order:
Hymenoptera
Class:
Insecta
Subphylum:
Uniramia
Phylum:
Arthopoda
Kingdom:
Animalia

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Tags bees, insects, arthropods, invertebrates, identification, wildlife of sydney,