Apine Bees (Apinae) – The Fascinating World of Bees


Apine bees, scientifically known as Apinae, are a diverse group of bees within the Apidae family, characterized by their crucial role as pollinators in ecosystems worldwide. These bees contribute significantly to the reproduction of flowering plants and the production of fruits and seeds. With their intriguing behaviors and unique physical characteristics, Apine bees play a vital role in maintaining biodiversity and supporting agricultural systems.

  • Nesting: – Typically nest in the ground. – Some species use pre-existing cavities. – Nests often in well-drained, sandy soils. – Bumblebees (Bombini) nest in abandoned rodent burrows. – Carpenter bees (Xylocopini) create tunnels in wood. – Stingless bees (Meliponini) use tree cavities or underground cavities. – Honeybees (Apini) build hives in tree hollows or human-made structures.
  • Pollen Carrying Method: Corbiculae (Pollen Baskets)
  • Foraging: Apine bees (Apinae) exhibit diverse foraging habits: – **Polylectic**: Many Apine bees forage on a wide variety of plant species. – **Mesolectic**: Some Apine bees specialize on a few plant species or a single plant family. – **Oligolectic**: Certain Apine bees are restricted to foraging on a single plant species or a very narrow group of related plants. The specific foraging habit can vary widely among different genera and species within the subfamily.
  • Size: Small to medium, 6-15 mm.
  • Average Length: 13 mm
  • Body Type: Apiform
  • Coloring: Black, yellow, golden, brown, orange, metallic green, iridescent
  • Pattern: stripes
  • Sociality: Solitary, Communal, Eusocial
  • Wings: Membranous, Vein-patterned
  • Eyes: Large, hairy, compound.
  • Mandibles: Typically strong, toothed mandibles.
  • Sting: Sting, pain: moderate, aggression: moderate
  • Tarsal Claws: Simple or bifid claws.
  • Abdomen: Segmented, often hairy.
  • Antennae: Medium
  • Hair: Branched, plumose, dense, pollen-collecting
  • Colorado Native: true
Additional Notes: – Subfamily of bees under the family Apidae. – Includes honeybees, bumblebees, and stingless bees. – Notable for their social behavior and complex hive structures. – Known for pollination services critical to many ecosystems. – Honeybees (Apis) produce honey and wax. – Characterized by branched or plumose hair for pollen collection. – Exhibit a wide range of nesting behaviors, including in-ground and cavity nesting. – Some species display a high degree of eusociality. – Important in both natural and agricultural environments for crop pollination.

Identification Tips: – Robust body with dense hairs – Branched hairs on legs for pollen collection – Generally black or brown, sometimes with yellow markings – Size ranges from small to large (5-20 mm) – Corbicula (“pollen baskets”) often present on hind legs of females – Long tongues in some genera for feeding on deep flowers – Often visible veins in wings – Antenna typically long and segmented


The term “Apinae” is derived from the Latin word “apis,” which means bee. This name reflects the close relationship of these bees to the general understanding of these vital pollinators in the natural world.

Physical Characteristics

Apine bees exhibit a wide range of physical traits that make them well-adapted to their ecological roles. From body shape to coloring and specialized structures for carrying pollen, these bees display remarkable diversity.

Identifiable Traits:

  • Body Shape: Apinae bees present various body shapes, including Bombiform, Euceriform, Megachiliform, Apiform, Hylaeiform, Andreniform, and Epeoliform.
  • Coloring: Their coloration ranges from vibrant yellow to deep black, white, red, orange, metallic, green, gold, dark brown, and combinations like yellow and black.
  • Antennae: Apine bees can have short, medium, or long antennae, aiding in sensory perception.
  • Hair: Their bodies are covered in dense, short hair, especially on the thorax, legs, and abdomen. This hairiness can vary from being hairy to hairless, furry, or featuring long hair.
  • Abdomen: The abdomen can be striped or solid, contributing to their unique appearance.
  • Size, Wings, Eyes, Mandibles, Sting, Pollen Carrying Structures, Tarsal Claws, and other important characteristics make Apine bees well-suited for their ecological roles.

Ecological Significance

Apine bees are vital pollinators, transferring pollen from one flower to another and facilitating plant reproduction. Their foraging activities lead to increased fruit and seed production, benefiting both wild plant populations and agricultural crops.


Apine bees can be found worldwide, inhabiting diverse environments ranging from tropical rainforests to temperate regions. Their distribution is closely linked to the availability of floral resources and nesting sites.

Social Behavior

Some Apine bees exhibit social behavior, living in colonies with a queen, workers, and drones. However, many species are solitary, with individual females constructing and provisioning their nests for offspring.

Nesting Practices

The nesting practices of Apine bees vary among species. Solitary bees create individual nests in the ground, wood cavities, or plant stems using materials like mud or leaf fragments. Social species build elaborate nests with specialized cells for egg-laying and larval development.

Floral Specialization

Apine bees often exhibit floral specialization, where certain species will preferentially visit specific plant species for nectar and pollen. This specialization can lead to important plant-pollinator relationships that benefit both parties.

Natural Predators

Apine bees face threats from a variety of natural predators such as birds, insects, and spiders. Parasitic species also target bee larvae or steal their provisions, impacting bee populations in various ecosystems.

Conservation Status

Many species of Apine bees are facing ecological pressures due to habitat destruction, pesticide use, and climate change. Conservation efforts are crucial to preserving bee populations and the services they provide to ecosystems and human societies.

Human Impact

Humans depend on Apine bees for pollination services in agriculture, contributing to the production of a significant portion of the world’s food supply. Understanding and supporting bee populations are essential for sustainable food production and ecosystem resilience.

Interesting Facts

  • Apine bees perform distinct “waggle dances” to communicate the location of food sources to other colony members.
  • Some species of Apine bees are capable of vibrational or sonication pollination, where they vibrate flowers to release pollen for collection.
  • Bees contribute to the production of honey, wax, propolis, and royal jelly, all of which have been used by humans for various purposes throughout history.

Apine Bees

  • Name: Apinae
  • Rank: subfamily

The Apinae are the subfamily that includes the majority of bees in the family Apidae. It includes the familiar “corbiculate” (pollen basket) bees — bumblebees, honey bees, orchid bees, stingless bees, and the extinct genus Euglossopteryx. It also includes all but two of the groups (excluding Nomadinae and Xylocopinae) that were previously classified in the family Anthophoridae.

ID: 199939

Similar Posts

Parent ID: