Green Leioproctus Bee
Golden Tail Hairless Bee

Family ANTHOPHORIDAE - Long-tongued Bees

Order Hymenoptera

This page contains pictures and information about Long-tongued Bees in Family Anthophoridae that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.
This family contains some largest bees in Australia. They make nest in dead tree branches or underground. They are solitary bees but some species may nest close together in large numbers. Some species are parasites of other bees' nests. They lay their own eggs in the brood cells of the host bees. They carry pollen on hind legs. 
Some members in this family, like the Carpenter Bees and the Blue-banded Bees, are known as buzz pollinators. They use special technique to get the pollen from flowers known as buzz pollination. They hold the flowers and vibrate with loud buzz sound. The vibration excited the flower which drop the pollen onto the bees body. The other insects do not have this technique cannot get the pollen.
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The bees have long tongues which allow them to reach the nectar in tubular flowers. Of course they feed on shallow flowers as well. None of these bees pose a serious threat to us, although the females do possess stings. 
The Apidae and Anthophoridae are close relatives and sometimes they are put in one family under Apidae. Following are those Anthophorid bees that we found.

Subfamily Anthophorinae, Anthophorini - Large Banded Bees

Bees in this subfamily are large, robust, hairy and often banded. They often nest in aggregations in ground or in bank of soil. Each female makes her own nest. The forewings have three sub-marginal cells. 
Teddy Bear Bee
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Amegilla bombiformis, body length 18mm
The bee is golden brown in colour with dark brown bands on abdomen. We saw this bee a few times, however, they fly fast and only stop on a flower buzzing for one to two seconds. It is hard to take their pictures. Please visit this page for more information.
Blue-banded Bee
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Amegilla cingulata, body length 15mm, female     Males
The thorax and head of Blue-banded Bees are covered with golden hairs and abdomen is banded with pale blue bands on black. This is a solitary bee but females may build nest together in same location with other Blue-banded Bees. Their nests built underground. Male do not build nest. They will cluster for the night hanging from stems or leaves by their jaws. More information and pictures please click here.

Subfamily Anthophorinae, Melectini - Large Parasitic Bees

Bees in this group are cleptoparasitic, female does not make its own nest nor feed their young but lays egg in the nest of other species. They are not hairy for they do not collect pollens. 
Neon Cuckoo Bee
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Thyreus nitidulus, body length 15mm
Above photos shows three Blue-banded Bees and one Cuckoo Bee. The Neon Cuckoo Bee female does not make its own nest. It lays egg in the nest of Blue-banded bee. Female places an egg in a partially completed brood cell. After the blue-banded bee seals the brood cell, the cuckoo bee egg hatches into larvae and feeds on the provisions stored by blue-banded bee. Please check this page for more information. 

Subfamily Xylocopinae, Allodapini - Large Black Bees

Bees in this group often shiny black in colour. The forewing vine has r and 1m closed. They nest in dead stems or in existing wood burrows. Females feed larvae progressively. Some species show primitive social organisation behaviour. 
Large Black Bee
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Braunsapis sp, body length 10mm
We found this bee on Sep 2010 in Karawatha Forest. Please check this page for more information. 

Subfamily Xylocopinae, Xylocopini - Carpenter Bees

Bees in this group are large to very large in size. They are robust, hairy, metallic black and green in colours. They make burrows in dead branches of trees or dead flower stalks of Grass Tree Xanthorrhoea. The forewings have two or three sub-marginal cells.
Great Carpenter Bee
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Xylocopa (Koptortosoma) aruana, body length 25mm
Great Carpenter Bees are very large and hairy bees, with black abdomen and yellow thorax. In fact they are the largest bee in Australia. Theirs wings are dark brown in colour. They are solitary, i.e., living on its own. They feed on pollen. Females make tunnel and lay eggs in decaying wood, including dry flower sticks of grass-trees Xanthorrhoea. Please check this page for more information.
Metallic Carpenter Bee, Peacock Carpenter Bee
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Xylocopa (Lestis) bombylans, body length 20mm
This is a large and hairy bee, with metallic black abdomen and thorax. Wings are tinted dark brown in colour. They are solitary bees, nest in the flower stem of grass trees Xanthorrhoea sp.. Please check this page for more pictures and information.
Green Carpenter Bee
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Xylocopa (Lestis) aeratus, body length 20mm 
This is a large and hairy bee, with metallic green abdomen and thorax. There are the golden hairs on thorax and abdomen. Wings are tinted dark brown in colour. Female's hairs are darker in colour. Please check this page for more information.

1. Native Bees of the Sydney region, a field guide - Anne Dollin, Michael Batley, Martyn Robinson & Brian Faulkner, Australian Native Bee Research Centre. 
2. Northern Territory Insects, A Comprehensive Guide CD - Graham Brown, 2009.

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Last updated: June 18, 2012.