The genus Hylaeus is a large diverse cosmopolitan group within the bee family Colletidae. The genus is also commonly known as the “yellow-faced bees”, although not all have yellow faces, some genus have white markings on their face.

With the common name of Masked Bee (Hylaeus sp), they get their name from the distinctive yellow or white markings on their face.

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

The Hylaeus genus of bees occur on all continents except for Antarctica.

The pictured Hylaeus sp is very small, no more then 6 mm in overall length. The abdomen is a dark red-brown with similar colouration across the head. The thorax is black with yellow patches.

There are approximately 173 species of the genu Hylaeus found in Australia, with 14 out of the 16 sub-genera of Hylaeus endemic to Australia. Research suggests that the genus Hylaeus originated from Australia, around 30 million years ago.1

This one landed on my leg for a couple of seconds.

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

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Hymenoptera
  • Family: Colletidae
  • Subfamily: Hylaeinae
  • Genus: Hylaeus

Footnote & References

  1. Hylaeus (bee), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hylaeus_(bee) (last visited Nov. 16, 2021).
  2. Hylaeus sp. (genus), A masked bee at Canberra, ACT, Canberra Nature Map, https://canberra.naturemapr.org/sightings/4201057