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Leaf Cutter Bees, Mason Bees, And Relatives

Megachilidae

Brief Summary

    Megachilidae: Brief Summary
    provided by wikipedia

     src= A leaf-cutter bee showing abdominal scopa  src= Leaves showing cuts by a leafcutter bee

    Megachilidae is a cosmopolitan family of mostly solitary bees whose pollen-carrying structure (called a scopa) is restricted to the ventral surface of the abdomen (rather than mostly or exclusively on the hind legs as in other bee families). Megachilid genera are most commonly known as mason bees and leafcutter bees, reflecting the materials from which they build their nest cells (soil or leaves, respectively); a few collect plant or animal hairs and fibers, and are called carder bees, while others use plant resins in nest construction and are correspondingly called resin bees. All species feed on nectar and pollen, but a few are kleptoparasites (informally called "cuckoo bees"), feeding on pollen collected by other megachilid bees. Parasitic species do not possess scopae. The motion of Megachilidae in the reproductive structures of flowers is energetic and swimming-like; this agitation releases large amounts of pollen.

    Brief Summary
    provided by Catalog of Hymenoptera in America North of Mexico
    This is one of the largest families of bees and is represented by about an equal number of species in each of the six zoogeographic regions. It is morphologically the most uniform and discrete familial assemblage within the Apoidea. While many of the characteristics of this family are shared with other families of bees and to a lesser extent with the Sphecoidea, the Megachilidae also possess many characteristics in common with the Scolioidea. ~The family is composed of three subfamilies, the Fideliinae and Lithurginae which are all pollen-collecting bees, and the Megachilinae which are predominantly pollen-collecting species, but which contain several genera that are cleptoparasitic mainly in the nests of other megachilids. The Fideliinae are found only in Chile and South Africa, but both of the other subfamilies are nearly cosmopolitan and are well represented in America north of Mexico. Most of the pollen-collecting species do not make their own burrows, but appropriate a wide variety of pre-existing burrows, holes, shells and other cavities or construct their nests either in the open attaching them to branches and so forth, or place them under stones, cow chips and so on. As a consequence of these habits, many species readily accept artificial nesting devices, and this has not only permitted detailed studies of their biology, but has also made possible the manipulation and management of several species for use in the pollination of agricultural crops. However, some species in certain genera (e.g., Megachile) and even some groups of species (e.g., Heteranthidium and Trachusa) do construct their own burrows. All of the pollen-collecting Megachilidae use foreign materials in the construction of the cell walls. These materials include leaves, plant down, leaf pulp, petals, resin, pebbles, mud, clay, and the like. The larvae spin tough cocoons before pupation. ~Apart from the cleptoparasitic species, many of the megachilids are highly restricted in their intrafloral relationships and thus oligolecty is a relatively common phenomenon in this family.

Comprehensive Description