The apid Tree of Life

I study the evolutionary relationships of bees and recently finished a project on the relationships of the largest bee family Apidae. Thanks go to Jason Dombroskie from the Cornell University Insect Collection (CUIC) for granting me access to the CUIC’s imaging system.

The phylogeny of Apidae, inferred from a combined data set of transcriptomes and ultraconserved elements (UCEs). If you are interested in details about the study, please find the article in the papers section.


Below are selected photographs of bee specimens that I examined in the natural history collections of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien (NHMW), the Museum of Natural Sciences of Belgium (RBINS), the Logan Bee Lab, and the Cornell University Insect Collection (CUIC).

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Systropha krigei

A male of the South African bee species S. krigei. Like all species of the genus Systropha, this species is oligolectic on species of Morning Glory (Convolvulaceae). This means that they are specialized to only collect pollen from flowers of their specific host-plants.

 
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Melitta leporina

A male of Melitta leporina. This bee belongs to the bee family Melittidae, which are host-plant specialists. M. leporina exclusively collects pollen from legumes flowers (Fabaceae).

 

Clavinomia clavicornis

Even though this species was already described in 1980 by Klaus Warncke, not more than 8 records of this species are known. The bee on the left is one of just two known female specimens!

 
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Eufriesea mexicana

The orchid bee Eufriesea mexicana occurs throughout Mesoamerica - not only in Mexico! It's genome was recently sequenced by Karen Kapheim's lab (link). We have good indications that the orchid bees are the most basal group within the corbiculate bees - and the only ones which aren't eusocial!

 
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Stictonomia sangaensis

Stictonomia is a genus of nomiine bees restricted to Africa. Only 10 species are known, most of them only by a few records!

 
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Bombus pennsylvanicus

Bumblebees are crazy. Everyone knows them but few know how crazy they actually are. As if eusocical behaviors aren't sophisticated enough, they can be narrow host plant specialists (Bombus gerstäckeri) or obligate social parasites (the subgenus Psithyrus)!

 

Steganomus junodi

Another Nomiinae- by now you might know that I have a weakness for them. Steganomus occurs in tropical Africa (5 species) and Southeast Asia (6 species). It is the only Nomia with only two submarginal cells!