Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Utah State University Faculty Honor Lectures


The Faculty Association, Utah State University

Publication Date



Before discussing parasitic bees, I will present a rough outline of the biology of "ordinary" or non-parasitic bees. The superfamily Apoidea (bees) includes perhaps 25,000 or 30,000 species divided into nine families by recent authorities (Stephen, Bohart, Torchio, 1969) . A common biological thread holding this vast assemblage together is the provision by adults of pollen and nectar for their young. Only in the honey bees (the genus Apis which includes four species) are the larvae fed primarily on a different substance (a secretion of the pharyngeal glands) , and even this is derived from pollen and honey eaten by the adults.

Most bees are solitary in that each female provides for her own offspring without help from other adults. However, many species are gregarious and may construct hundreds or even thousands of nests in small areas. The social species (perhaps 10 percent of the total) range from those with small nests containing only two or three adults to ones whose nests contain many thousands. [like the honey bees and some stingless bees (MeEponini)] . Most bees construct burrows and cells in the soil, but many others, nest in small (usually tubular) cavities such as hollow stems, beetle holes, and small rock pockets. Bees in the family Apidae nest in larger cavities such as rodent burrows, caves, and boxes. Nearly all bees construct individual brood cells in which they store a supply of pollen and honey. They then lay an egg on the provision and seal the cell. A much smaller number (including honey bees and bumble bees) feed their larvae progressively (at least in part)


This work made publicly available electronically on August 5, 2011.