Spotted Cuckoo bee Click to enlarge image
Spotted Cuckoo bee, Genus Thyreus Image: Andrew Donnelly
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Genus
    Thyreus
    Subfamily
    Apinae
    Family
    Apidae
    Super Family
    Apoidea
    Suborder
    Apocrita
    Order
    Hymenoptera
    Class
    Insecta
    Subphylum
    Uniramia
    Phylum
    Arthopoda
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    1 cm - 1.4 cm

Cuckoo bees do not build their own nests.

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.

Habitat

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

Distribution

Cuckoo bees are found throughout most of Australia.

Life history 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.


Spotted Cuckoo bee
Cuckoo bees Image: Andrew Donnelly
© Australian Museum