Other Common Names
Plasterer Bees, Polyester Bees
98 spp. in our area, 460 spp. worldwide(1)
with an estimated total of 700
Overall shape: similar to a honey bee
Gaster: conical with pointed apex, and with flattened underside contrasting with very convex tergites.
Forewings: 2nd and 3rd submarginal cells roughly the same size, slightly curved "basal" vein. 2nd recurrent vein strongly arcuate (S-shaped). See the vein in the bottom left of the image below.
Heart-shaped face and slightly flattened body. Tongue is short, fat and split at the tips. 4 segments of labial palps same length (indicating a short-tongued bee). The eyes are angled outward rather than being parallel. Colletes lack a pygidial plate and tufts of hair. (3)
Much of the world, except Australasia. Madagascar and the Oriental Region (map
Solitary. Ground nesting; they tend to nest in aggregations.
Virtually indistinguishable from some of the Andrenidae mining bees. Colletes are honey bee size, and have dramatic black and white banding on the abdomen. Some andrenids have similar markings, but are usually slightly smaller. Colletes tend to nest in dense aggregations, while andrenids are not usually as populous. -by Eric Eaton
Stephen, W. P. (1954). A Revision of the Bee Genus Colletes
in America North of Mexico (Hymenoptera, Colletidae). The University of Kansas Science Bulletin 36(1): 149-527 (Available online, see "Internet References" below)(4)
Mitchell, T.B. (1960) Bees of the eastern United States. I. Technical bulletin (North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station), 141, 1-538.(5)
The 378 page monograph by W. P. Stephen, cited above, can be read online or downloaded as a PDF in four parts. Part I consists of pp. 149-248
; Part II consists of pp. 249-348
; Part III consists of pp. 349-448
; and Part IV consists of pp. 449-527
. A smaller file consisting of the bibliography, page index to species descriptions
, figures, and maps can be downloaded here