MegachileMegachile aurifrons Megachile canifrons Megachile macularis Megachile (Thaumatosoma) duboulaii

Images and Author Gary Taylor

The elusive Megachile (Thaumatosoma) duboulaii (Smith 1865).

Although first described a bit over 150 years ago she’s apparently never been photographed before. And although the first pics I ever took of her were two years ago she was only recently identified by the incredibly knowledgeable (and helpful) Roch Desmier de Chenon after I posted some pics of one that had taken up residence in my BeeTown. He also mentioned that although she had been described in 1865, she’d pretty much never been seen since and we really don’t know anything about her… I had an opportunity to watch, learn, record and share something never seen before… And the first thing I learnt was she is the most frustratingly unpredictable and unpunctual bee I’ve ever tried to photograph in BeeTown 😆

Seriously, most Megachile bees go pretty flat out when they’re nesting and you’ve only got to watch them for a little while to work out their habits… If it takes one 10 minutes to come back with a load of pollen you can be pretty sure that’s how long it will take next time. It makes it easier to get pics when you know roughly when your subject is going to turn up… But not this girl, she could take 30 minutes, then 50, then 20, then an hour…

So this is how it went… The first pics I took of her in BeeTown were on the 18th of August and in those pics she’s not carrying pollen which means she’d been there long enough to be capping off at least the first chamber in her nest. I point this out ‘cos usually a bee will take 5 to 7 days to fill and cap off one nesting chamber… that’s going to be on my workdays., bugger, I’ll probably miss it… But no! Seven days and she was still bringing in pollen, now I had three days off… perfect…

So I spent three days watching and waiting… and waiting… and more waiting, but it didn’t happen… 10 days and she still hadn’t capped off her first nest… Back to work the next day but early short shift, home by lunchtime, raced out for a look… and yep, you guessed it, she’d capped off her nest and I’d missed it 😄 Oh well, maybe the next one… 2 more days work, 3 off, 4 on, then 3 off, if it takes her 10 or 11 days again that will again be on my days off… But no! This time she only took 6 days, capping off on my first day back at work… Missed again… 😅

Then, I dunno if it was the sudden jump in temperature from low 20’s to a warm 30 that sparked her up or if she just didn’t put as many eggs in her third nest, but she capped that one off the next day… I couldn’t believe it… Pretty shoddy workmanship on the cap tho’, that’s it in the last pic, a bit “slapped up” compared to her first cap in the previous pic, not even sealed properly.

(Just a footnote here, I’ve recently noticed one of the Megachile canifrons residents has now patched it up 🙂)

Anyway, one last chance to catch her capping off, I’d captured her carrying in pollen (first pic), sand grains (second pic), and resin (third pic), I just needed the final ace in the deck… 5 days later I get off work and she’s still filling her nest with pollen… awesome, she’s gotta be close to finishing and I’ve got 3 days off… Any minute now she’ll start capping off… any minute… 3 days of any minute now… Nope, she waited ’til the ninth day when I was back at work… 🤣

Oh well, maybe next year…

Author Gary Taylor, Geraldton, Midwest WA
Megachile (Thaumatosoma) duboulaii, Geraldton, Midwest WA © Gary Taylor
Megachile (Thaumatosoma) duboulaii, Geraldton, Midwest WA © Gary Taylor
Megachile (Thaumatosoma) duboulaii, Geraldton, Midwest WA © Gary Taylor
Megachile (Thaumatosoma) duboulaii, Geraldton, Midwest WA © Gary Taylor
Megachile (Thaumatosoma) duboulaii, Geraldton, Midwest WA © Gary Taylor
Megachile (Thaumatosoma) duboulaii, Geraldton, Midwest WA © Gary Taylor
Megachile (Thaumatosoma) duboulaii, Geraldton, Midwest WA © Gary Taylor
Megachile (Thaumatosoma) duboulaii, Geraldton, Midwest WA © Gary Taylor
Megachile (Thaumatosoma) duboulaii, Geraldton, Midwest WA © Gary Taylor
Megachile (Thaumatosoma) duboulaii, Geraldton, Midwest WA © Gary Taylor

  • Scientific Classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Hexapoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Informal: Pterygotes
  • Order: Hymenoptera
  • Superfamily: Apoidea
  • Informal: Apiformes
  • Family: Megachilidae
  • Subfamily: Megachilinae
  • Tribe: Megachilini
  • Genus: Megachile
  • Subgenus: infrageneric Thaumatosoma
  • Species: Megachile duboulaii

Footnote & References

  1. Megachile (Thaumatosoma) duboulaii, images and author Gary Taylor

MegachileMegachile aurifrons Megachile canifrons Megachile macularis Megachile (Thaumatosoma) duboulaii

BeesAmegilla Bee Austroplebeia australis Bees Anatomy Bee Behaviour Ceylalictus perditellus Colletidae European Honey Bee Euryglossinae Homalictus Hyleoides bivulnerata Lipotriches Megachile Meroglossa Stenotritidae Thyreus Xylocopa aerata