Apids are a very diverse family with more tribes than any other family of bees. They vary tremendously in size, shape and color.
The social behavior of apid family members is also diverse, but some of the most eusocial bee species are part of this family. For example, the exotic honey bee (species Apis mellifera) and the native bumble bees (genus Bombus) are included in this group. Bumble bees can have up to 350 individuals in a colony, while honey bees can reach up to 50,000!
Bumble bees often nest in abandoned rodent burrows or on the surface in dry grass clumps , but sometimes they choose compost heaps, old mattresses, etc. They can adapt to a variety of conditions as long as food and nesting conditions permit it!
Some apids, such as the small carpenter bees (genus Ceratina), nest in plant stems, while digger bees (genus Anthophora) and long-horn bees (genus Eucera) nest in the ground, and feral honey bees nest preferentially in tree trunks [3,4].
Still other apids such as the Mellecta, Nomada and even some Bombus (e.g. B. insularis) are parasites on other bees. As with most parasitic bees, or cuckoo bees, they tend to have reduced pollen collecting features and oftentimes look quite wasp-like! A list of key characters of this group is in development.
1. Michener 2007
2. Macfarlane et al. 1994
3. Stephen et al. 1969
4. Michener 2007