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Members of the bee family Melittidae generally do not have common names. Four species of melittid bees, all native to North America, have been recorded in Pennsylvania1. Worldwide, 203 species have been described in this family2.

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General identifying morphological characters

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  • A pair of grooves on their face (one below each antenna)
  • Slightly longer first segment of the midleg, compared to members of other bee families
  • Short tongue length
  • Small to medium size
  • Brown or black in color

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Nesting habitats

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Bees in this family nest in burrows that they dig in the ground. They typically prefer areas of bare, sandy soils, for nesting.
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Sociality

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All species of bees in this family are solitary.
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Other behavioral or biological traits

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Melittid bees are rarely observed or collected. Most species are specialists, only collecting and feeding on pollen/nectar from a limited number of types of plants. Members of one group in Pennsylvania, the genus Macropis, collect oils from flowers of the genus Lysimachia to coat the inside of their nests with and for use as a component in food for their developing larvae.
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Additional information and keys for species identification

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Macropis ciliata, female.
Photo: USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab.

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Checklist of melittid bees recorded in Pennsylvania1

  • Counties this species has been found in
  • Date(s) of previous collections for this species in Pennsylvania
  • The most recent year of collection of this species in Pennsylvania

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Macropis ciliata

Patton, 1880

  • Bucks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Leigh
  • June 12 to July 9
  • 1922

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Macropis nuda

Provancher, 1882

  • Leigh, Pike
  • April 21 to July 9
  • 1983

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Macropis patellata

Patton, 1880

  • Bucks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Huntington, Leigh, Philadelphia
  • June 25 to July 14
  • 1922

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Melitta mellitoides 

Viereck, 1909

  • Centre
  • June 16
  • 1958

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References

  1. Ascher, J. S. and J. Pickering. 2018. Discover Life bee species guide and world checklist (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila). http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?guide=Apoidea_species
  2. Donovall, L. R., and D. vanEngelsdorp. 2010. A Checklist of the Bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) of Pennsylvania. J. Kans. Entomol. Soc. 83: 7-24. https://doi.org/10.2317/JKES808.29.1

How to cite this webpage

Kilpatrick, S.K., and M.M. López-Uribe. 2019. Melittidae. http://lopezuribelab.com/melittidae/

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Webpage layout and design by Mackenzie Schade, Kathleen Evans, & Shelby Kilpatrick; updated March 2019
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