Bees > Amegilla sp | Amegilla chlorocyanea | Apis mellifera | Homalictus | Hylaeus sp | Megachile aurifrons | Thyreus waroonensis

Bees belong to the Order Hymenoptera, that includes wasps, ants and sawflies, within Suborder Apocrita and Superfamily Apoidea. They are presently considered a clade, called Anthophila. There is considered to be over 20,000 bee species worldwide, living on every continent except Antarctica. They live in a range of ecosystems from forest, grasslands and arid desert regions.

In Australia there are four main bee families: Apidae, Colletidae, Halictidae and Megachilidae. There is thought to be over 1,500 species of native bees in Australia.

The most recognised and cultivated bee is the Western Honey Bee, also known as the European Honey Bee, used in in the production of honey.

European Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) on a Cape honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis)
European Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)

Solitary bees consist of about 75% to 90% of species, among which include the mason bees, carpenter bees, leafcutters bees, and sweat bees. The rest of the species of bees live socially in colonies and include the honey bees, bumblebees and stingless bees.

Golden-browed Resin Bee (Megachile aurifrons), Alice Springs, NT
Golden-browed Resin Bee (Megachile aurifrons)

Bees vary in size and actually come in a variety of colours, including, red, blue, green, yellow, black and white. Some species have stripes and other a metallic sheen.

Masked Bee (Hylaeus sp), Alice Springs, NT
Masked Bee (Hylaeus sp), Alice Springs, NT

With the growing interest in the many bee species, there is a lot more information available in publications and online. Further support can be found in a number of Facebook groups and local naturalist clubs.

Waroona Cuckoo Bee (Thyreus waroonensis) © Gary Taylor
Waroona Cuckoo Bee (Thyreus waroonensis) © Gary Taylor

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Hymenoptera
  • (unranked): Unicalcarida
  • Suborder: Apocrita
  • Superfamily: Apoidea
  • Clade: Anthophila
  • Families:
    • Andrenidae
    • Apidae
    • Colletidae
    • Halictidae
    • Megachilidae
    • Melittidae
    • Stenotritidae
  • Synonyms: Apiformes

Footnote & References

  1. Hymenoptera, (last visited Dec. 7, 2021)
  2. Bees: Suborder Apocrita, Author David Britton, Australian Museum,
  3. Bee, (last visited Dec. 7, 2021)
  4. Bees, The National Wildlife Federation,
  5. How to make a native bee hotel, Words and images by Kit Prendergast (BSc, PhD researcher at Curtin University), About The Garden Pty Ltd,
  6. What do bees look like?, Australian Museum,
  7. Protect and Enjoy the 1,700 Species of Australian Native Bees…, Aussie Bee,