These are small to medium-sized bees that are often metallic in color. They may be solitary, semi-social, or highly social in their nesting and food-gathering habits. Sometimes, they are called "Sweat Bees," but this refers to the predilection of only a small number of species in this family (and some flies that resemble bees). Usually, they nest in the ground and line the brood cells with a water-resistant coating of chemicals. Three subfamilies and one tribe will be described, which vary considerably in their importance. Dufourinae (Dufourine Bees): There is some doubt whether this subfamily has been properly assigned to the Halictidae. There is only one species that appears in the database: Dufourea marginatus. It is not a common visitor of prairie wildflowers. Halictinae (Halictine Bees, Green Metallic Bees, etc.): There are many species in this subfamily, and they can be hard to tell apart. The Halictine bees are the among the most important and common visitors to prairie wildflowers, and have a long flight season. In appearance, these small bees may be black, dull brown, shiny green or blue, or have black and yellow stripes on the abdomen. The Agapostemon, Augochlora, and Augochloropsis spp., in particular, are called "Green Metallic Bees" because of their shiny appearance. The smaller prairie wildflowers are especially likely to be favored by these bees. Nomiinae (Alkali Bees): Alkali Bees are more common in the western United States. Only a single species, Nomia nortoni, is contained in the database from this subfamily. Alkali Bees typically nest in dry, open areas, and often have large hairy legs. Sphecodini (Cuckoo Halictid Bees): This tribe contains several Sphecodes spp. They are parasitic on the brood cells of other Halictid Bees.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
Specimens with Sequences:13301
Specimens with Barcodes:10853
Species With Barcodes:1845
The Halictidae are a very large and nearly cosmopolitan family of the order Hymenoptera consisting of small (> 4 mm) to midsize (> 8 mm) bees which are usually dark-colored and often metallic in appearance. Several species are all or partly green and a few are red; a number of them have yellow markings, especially the males, which commonly possess yellow faces, a pattern widespread among the various families of bees. They are commonly referred to as "sweat bees" (especially the smaller species), as they are often attracted to perspiration; when pinched, females can give a minor sting.
Most halictids nest in the ground, though a few nest in wood, and they mass-provision their young (a mass of pollen and nectar is formed inside a waterproof cell, an egg laid upon it, and the cell sealed off, so the larva is given all of its food at one time, as opposed to "progressive provisioning", where a larva is fed repeatedly as it grows, as in honey bees). All species are pollen feeders and may be important pollinators.
Many species in the subfamily Halictinae are eusocial at least in part, with fairly well-defined queen and worker castes (though not the same as the caste system in honey bees), and certain manifestations of their social behavior appear to be facultative in various lineages.
Several genera and species of halictids are cleptoparasites of other bees (mostly other halictids), and the behavior has evolved at least 9 times independently within the family. The most well-known and common are species in the genus Sphecodes, which are somewhat wasp-like in appearance (often shining black with blood-red abdomen- German: Blutbienen - usually 4-9 mm in body length); the female Sphecodes enters the cell with the provision mass, eats the host egg, and lays an egg of her own in its place.
Halictidae are one of the four bee families that contain some crepuscular species; these halictids are active only at dusk or in the early evening, so are technically considered "vespertine" (e.g. in the subgenus Sphecodogastra of Lasioglossum), or sometimes truly nocturnal (e.g. in the genus Megalopta). These bees, as is typical in such cases, have greatly enlarged ocelli. The other families with some crepuscular species are Andrenidae, Colletidae, and Apidae.
Systematics and evolution
The Halictidae belong to the hymenopteran superfamily Apoidea, series Anthophila. The oldest fossil record of Halictidae dates back to Early Eocene with a number of species, such as Neocorynura electra and Augochlora leptoloba known from amber deposits. Currently, the family is divided into four subfamilies, many genera and more than 2000 known species. The Rophitinae appear to be the sister group to the remaining three subfamilies (Nomiinae, Nomioidinae, Halictinae) based on both morphology and molecular data.
- Tribe Halictini
- Tribe unknown
- Pesenko, Yu. A. (1999). "Phylogeny and Classification of the family Halictidae Revised (Hymenoptera: Apoidea)". Journal of the Kansas Emtomological Society 72 (1): 104–123. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
- Engel, M.S., Archibald, S.B. An Early Eocene bee (Hymenoptera: Halictidae) from Quilchena, British Columbia. The Canadian Entomologist, Vol. 135, No. 1, 2003
- Engel, M.S. (1995). "Neocorynura electra, a New Fossil Bee Species from Dominican Amber (Hymenoptera:Halictidae)". Journal of the New York Entomological Society 103 (3): 317–323. JSTOR 25010174.
- Engel, M.S. (2000). "Classification of the bee tribe Augochlorini (Hymenoptera, Halictidae)". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 250.
- Patiny, S. et al., Phylogenetic relationships and host-plant evolution within the basal clade of Halictidae (Hymenoptera, Apoidea). Cladistics 24 (2008) 255–269
To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!