Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Chartergus arizonaensis Cameron 1907
c. TX & s. AZ to Panama (Sugden & McAllen 1994)
Occurs in all but the driest habitats(1)
Nest placement is in the midcanopy of a tree or shrub from 1 to 9 m above ground level. Nests are sparse and difficult to find in native brush but relatively common in suburban settings where they are easily spotted in deciduous trees in winter. (Sugden & McAllen 1994)
Larvae feed on honey(1)
, and probably also pollen; this is unusual for vespids.
, with worker and reproductive castes. More than one queen per hive, and there are females present with ovaries intermediate in size between workers and queens. Form large colonies by swarming (coordinated groups of queens and workers). Store honey, but do not cap cells, as do bees. Nests are perennial, built in low trees, with as many as 50,000 cells.(2)(3)
One of the very few insects other than bees to produce and store honey.
Comment from Dr. Joan Strassmann, "They are docile a lot, but then they can explode, attacking en masse."
Pachodynerus nasidens (Eumeninae), has a larger first metasomal segment:
Hastings, M.D., D.C. Queller, F. Eischen & J.E. Strassmann. 1998. Kin selection, relatedness and worker control of reproduction in a large-colony epiponine wasp, Brachygastra mellifica. Behavioral Ecology, 9(6): 573-581.
Hogue, C. 1993. Latin American Insects and Entomology. University of California Press, Berkeley. xiv + 594 pp. (1)
Naumann, M.G. 1968. A revision of the genus Brachygastra
(Hymenoptera: Vespidae). U. Kansas Sci. Bull. 47: 929-1003. (Full Text
Schwarz, H.F. 1929. Honey wasps. Natural History, 29(4): 421-426.
Sugden, E.A. and R.L. McAllen. 1994. Observations on foraging, population and nest biology of the Mexican honey wasp, Brachygastra mellifica
(Say) in Texas (Vespidae: Polybiinae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 67(2): 141-155. (JSTOR