The bees in this family have short, bilobed tongues. They have often been regarded as the most primitive family of bees. Female bees line their brood cells with a clear liquid mixture of chemicals, which is water-proof and resistant to fungal attack. Two subfamilies will be described. Colletinae (Plasterer Bees, Miner Bees): These hairy bees are solitary and dig nests in the ground. At favorable sites, such as an eroded bank, they may construct nests in sufficient numbers to resemble a "bee village," even though no sharing of labor was involved. Hylaeinae (Masked Bees): These relatively hairless bees lack an external structure to carry pollen (which is swallowed and stored in the crop), and resemble wasps. They are usually black, with white or yellow markings on the face, hence the name, "Masked Bees." They construct nests in plant stems, plant galls, tunnels of wood-boring insects, abandoned nests of other bees and wasps, or in the ground.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
Specimen Records: 5091
Specimens with Sequences: 4019
Specimens with Barcodes: 3409
Species With Barcodes: 828
Public Records: 751
Public Species: 187
Public BINs: 150
The Colletidae are a family of bees, and are often referred to collectively as plasterer bees or polyester bees, due to the method of smoothing the walls of their nest cells with secretions applied with their mouthparts; these secretions dry into a cellophane-like lining. There are five subfamilies, 54 genera, and over 2000 species, all of them evidently solitary, though many nest in aggregations. Two of the subfamilies, Euryglossinae and Hylaeinae, lack the external pollen-carrying apparatus (the scopa) that otherwise characterizes most bees, and instead carry the pollen in their crops. These groups, and most genera in this family, have liquid or semiliquid pollen masses on which the larvae develop.
They can be found all over the world, but the most species live in South America and Australia. Over 50% of all bee species living in Australia belong to this family. Only the genera Colletes and Hylaeus can be found in Europe, while in North America, in addition to these two, the genera Caupolicana, Eulonchopria, and Ptiloglossa are found.
Traditionally, this family is believed to be likely the most "primitive" among extant bees, based primarily on the similarities of their mouthparts (the unique possession among bees of a bilobed glossa) to those of Crabronidae (the putative ancestors of bees), but recent molecular studies have disproved this hypothesis, placing Melittidae (sensu lato) as the basal group of bees.
The Colletidae are one of the four bee families that contain some crepuscular species (of both the "vespertine" and "matinal" types). These bees, as is typical in such cases, have greatly enlarged ocelli. The other families with some crepuscular species are Andrenidae, Halictidae, and Apidae.
- Subfamily Colletinae
- Subfamily Diphaglossinae
- Subfamily Xeromelissinae
- Subfamily Hylaeinae
- Subfamily Euryglossinae
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