We are still hammering away at our remaining 2020 bees. The past several weeks I have been focusing on Nomada and Sphecodes, which are both groups of parasitic bees that sneak into other bee nests. These two groups are both frustrating and in dire need of revision to describe, update, and lump species groups. But, I am stuck with the taxonomy as it is now, so for some of them I might just end up lumping them as species group A, B, C, etc. I will continue to try to work on them and figure out what I have, but as with Lasioglossum, there is a learning curve that is best aided with good reference specimens.
These are black and red bees in the family Halictidae. We have 159 specimens from our 2020 bowl samples. There are a few species that are easy to identify, like the ones with 2 submarginal cells or the species with the large bump on the top of the head (Sphecodes heraclei).
The remaining Sphecodes are sorted into groups based on whether they have a tooth on their mandible, the punctation on the scutum (plate on back), abdominal punctation, and antennal length ratios.
The nomad bees are small to medium sized parasitic bees in the family Apidae. They are variable in color, but are often red, yellow, or black, with a variety of the colors mixed in. These bees are easily mistaken for predatory wasps given their lack of hair and striking coloration.
There is a large group of them that have a tooth on the mandible, that per comments from other taxonomists, we have decided to just lump as Bidentate Group. That accounted for about 40 specimens. That still leaves over 300 of non-bidentate Nomada. This group is a mess and needs taxonomic work, but I have tried to at least sort things. After sorting out the bidentate specimens, we then sorted them by size and then sex, since the males and females have very different characters used to identify them. For the females, we then sorted by clypeus color (red, orange, yellow, or black) and from those we sorted based on abdominal banding patterns (whether yellow bands were complete, narrowly broken, widely broken, or absent). For males, we sorted by scutellum color (red, black, black with yellow, black with red, and yellow), and whether the antennae had spines on the 3rd segment.
Needless to say, we have things more organized, but still lacking names for several of these groups. So I decided to try to get reference specimens so I can more easily compare and learn the groups.
Trip to the Triplehorn Insect Collection:
Thankfully, we were allowed access to research specimens at the museum, so I spent a day looking through the collection and pulling specimens.
Anyways, that is all I have for now. I will keep on chugging along and see what I can work out with the aid of the new Nomada references. I’m also looking into tracking down some Sphecodes reference specimens, so if you are a bee taxonomist and know of some that are easy access, let me know!