Most members of the family Melittidae do not have common names. Four (4) species of melittid bees, all native to North America, have been recorded in Pennsylvania [1]. Worldwide, this family has over 200 species described [2].

General identifying morphological characters include:

  • 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

Nesting habitats

Bees in this family dig burrows and nest in the ground. They typically prefer nesting in areas with bare, sandy soil.


All species in this family are solitary.

Other behavioral or biological traits

Melittid bees are rarely observed or collected. Most species are specialists, only collecting and feeding on pollen/nectar from a limited number of plant species. Members of one group in Pennsylvania, the genus Macropis, collect oils from flowers of the genus Lysimachia to coat the inside of their nests; they also use it in food for their developing larvae.

Species list

A checklist of melittid bees recorded in Pennsylvania is presented below. For each species, we list the counties, date ranges, and the most recent years they have been collected or observed in the openly-accessible checklist [see 1].

Genus Macropis — 3 species

Macropis ciliata, f

Macropis (Macropis) ciliata Patton, 1880

Macropis (Macropis) nuda (Provancher, 1882)

Macropis (Macropis) patellata Patton, 1880

Genus Melitta — 1 species

Melitta melittoides, f

Melitta (Cilissa) melittoides (Viereck, 1909)

Additional information about species in this family is available at:


  1. Kilpatrick SK, Gibbs J, Mikulas MM, Spichiger S-E, Ostiguy N, Biddinger DJ, López-Uribe MM (2020) An updated checklist of the bees (Hymenoptera, Apoidea, Anthophila) of Pennsylvania, United States of America. Journal of Hymenoptera Research 77: 1–86.
  2. Ascher JS, Pickering J (2020) Discover Life bee species guide and world checklist (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila).

Photo Credit
USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab

How to Cite this Webpage 
Kilpatrick SK, López-Uribe MM (2020) Melittidae.

Updated 29 June 2020