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1. Centns flavopicta.

2. Oxaea fiavescens.

3. Euglossa analis.

4. Euglossa pulchra.


5. A new and unnamed species of Xylocopa.

6. Xylocopa nobihs.

. JMiglossa violacea.
8. Euglossa Bruilei.



M'itli j.'i-nutifuUij-^almtrr-d Illustrations,


<; IM)OM I1KIDGE AX D so X s.

















1. Xylocopa nigrita, (male.)

2. Xylocopa nigrita, (femaie.)

3. Euglossa dimidiata.

7. Crocisa

4. Chrysantheda frontal);

5. Euglossa cordata.

6. Aiithophora elegans.



THE Bee is a name common to all the species of a very
numerous tribe of Insects of the order Hymenoptera. The
bee family was termed by the great French naturalist
Latreille, Mellifera (honey-gatherers), or Anthophila (flower-
lovers), both terms being characteristic of the general habits
of the family, but the former the most appropriate. In
England alone about 250 species have been discovered. No
insect is so well known to the general public as the common
hive-bee (Apis mellifica) of North- Western Europe. All the
habits, peculiarities, and wonderful and interesting social
arrangements of this insect have been described and explained
in numerous works ; but, although the natural history of
our common hive-bee has been made so generally known, the
other members of the bee family have found but few popular
historians, and less is generally kno\vn about them, except to
entomologists, than about other far less interesting insect

Yet there are many wonderful peculiarities connected with
different species of the bee tribe which would amply repay
the labour of a little observation and study. We shall, there-
fore, direct the reader's attention to a few remarkable species
of British and foreign bees, more especially with reference to
certain extraordinary resemblances which exist between some
of the honey-collecting species and those belonging to the


parasitic or cuckoo class, which will lead to the notice of still
more curious resemblances that exist between bees and cer-
tain insects belonging to the distinct order Diptera. These
last, though only furnished with two wings, while the bees
'and the whole order (Hymenoptera) to which they belong
have four, yet bear such a striking resemblance to the bees,
in company with which they are found, that an untrained
observer would not, certainly at a first glance, perceive the
difference that really exists.

One of the most remarkable features in those species of
bees which live in societies, as is well known in the case of
the common hive-bee, is the existence of a third sex, the
neuter or worker ; and there are other singular peculiarities
of this sort in less known species, such as the existence of two
distinct kinds of females.

The material of which the egg-cells are composed is very
various in the different species. The comb of the hive-bee, as
is well known, is made of wax, secreted in a peculiar manner;*
but other species, though forming a comb almost identical in
appearance, make it by the manipulation of certain substances
which they reduce to a material resembling common paper ;
while others form cells of sand, moistened with a glutinous
secretion, which reduces it to a kind of tenacious cement.

Some of these species, again, collect an inferior kind of
honey, while others only collect pollen, of which they place a
small mass or ball in each cell in which an egg is to be depo-
sited, so as to furnish a supply of food for the grub or larva
to subsist on till full grown. This substance is collected solely
to form food for the larvae. The exact quantity sufficient is
prepared by the instinct of the parent ; and, in fact, when
that is consumed, the young grub bee is compelled to subside
at once into the torpor during which his change of organisa-
tion is to take place, as he has no powers of locomotion, being

* For a description of the process, and for all general information
respecting the habits and management of the common hive-bee,
see "The Beekeeper's Manual," by Henry Taylor. Price 4s.
(Jroombridge & Sons, 5, Paternoster Row, London.


a clumsy maggot-formed larva, and, being placed at the
bottom of a smooth-sided cell, has uo means of seeking food
for himself.

In many instances it is only by the bees travelling from
tlower to flower that the pollen or farina is carried from the
male to the female flowers, without which they would not
fructify. One species of bee would not be sufficient to fructify
all the various sorts of flowers, were the bees of that species
ever so numerous, for it requires species of different sizes
and different constructions. "M. Sprengel found, that
not only are insects indispensable in fructifying different
species of Iris, but that some of them, as /. jdphinm, require
the agency of the larger humble-bees, which alone are strong
enough to force their way beneath the stile flag ; and hence,
as these insects are not so common as many others, this Iris is
often barren, or bears imperfect seeds."

The tribes of parasitic bees which do not make cells to
contain honey or pollen for the separate use of each infant
bee, visit the nests of their more industrious cousins, and
surreptitiously place an egg of their own in the cell contain-
ing the honey or pollen, as the case may be.

" It was formerly believed," says Mr. Noel Humphreys,
" that the egg of the parasitic, bee was placed in the same
cell with the egg of the honey-bee, and that being hatched
first, the young parasite devoured all the food, leaving the
infant of the honey-bee to find himself born to an empty
larder, and consequently speedy starvation ; but more recent
observation has led to the conclusion that this is not the case,
but that the parasitic bee, on entering the nest, selects cells
already furnished with honey or pollen, but in which no egg
has yet been laid. While the unsuspicious female proprietors
of the nest, finding an unexpected egg deposited in the cell
they first visit, exhibit no sign of surprise, but pass on to the
next, not seeming to be at all disturbed by the presence of the
uninvited deposit ; just as small birds make no attempt to ex-
clude the egg of the cuckoo, but hatch it, and rear the young
intruder along with their own offspring. This occurs in the
nests of wild bees constructed in different situations, some


kinds making an excavation expressly, others adopting the
deserted work of some other insect, or taking advantage of an
accidental hollow. For instance, Anthidium manicatum, one
of our summer bees, generally uses the holes bored in willow
stumps by the Cossus ligniperda; but a nest of this species
was once found, as described by Mr. F. Smith, in the key-
hole of a garden door. Some of the humble-bees, on the
other hand, carefully construct their own burrow. A beau-
tiful exotic species, a large and powerful bee, has received the
specific name of Latipes, from the singular broadening and
strengthening of the front pair of feet. These broadened
feet assume somewhat of the character of the front feet of the
mole, or rather those of that curious insect, the mole cricket.
These enlarged feet, with the thick brushes of strong hairs
with which they are furnished, are evidently excavating
implements, and no doubt the works produced by their agency
are of a very interesting kind ; but entomological discovery
has not at present made us acquainted with the nest archi-
tecture of this handsome insect. A pretty little English bee,
one of the solitary kind, often makes its burrow in sheltered
parts of hard gravel walks ; an affair evidently of very great
labour, as the female bee, who is the sole architect in this
instance, frequently comes to the opening of the burrow to
rest, when the male companion commences flying rapidly
round and round his mate, as though to encourage her to
renew her task."

Among those species most subject to parasitic intruders is
the common garden humble-bee, Bomlus hortorum, of which
we give an engraving (Fig. 1) side by side with its parasite
Apathus barbutellus (Fig. 2). These bees so closely resemble
each other, that one may easily be mistaken for the other,
even by those aware of the resemblance, till alter a close
examination, as they are almost identical in colour, size, and
general form. There is, however, one marked difference,
which is easily perceived Avhen the eye has been taught where
to look for it ; for the hind legs of the honey or pollen collector
invariably have .an enlarged tibia, or large bone of the leg,
the flattened and somewhat hollowed breadth of which


as a receptacle in which the pollen collected from flowers is
carried to the nest. This peculiarity of form is seen in the
engraving, Fig. 1 ; while the corresponding part of the hind
leg, as shown in Fig. 2, will be observed to be simply rounded.
These parasites, having neither the instinct to collect food for
their expected progeny, nor, in fact, the means of carrying it
home, even if they had the desire, have been considered by
naturalists to be entirely without those parental and home
instincts which distinguish the collecting and harvesting
kinds, and from this apparent apathy in regard to providing
food or protection for their young being the chief charac-

teristics of all parasites, the whole genus has been named
Aputhus, by an eminent English naturalist, in place of the
name Cuculincv, or cuckoo-bees, given to them by Latreille.
The light band on the thorax, or forepart near the head, is less
distinct in the Apatlins, and the abdomen is less profusely

The insect shown in Fig. 3 is still more curious, and
although, at first sight, it seems to resemble both the bees so
much as to be mistaken for them, it will be found on closer
examination to be not only far from identical, but radically
different. It is, in fact, merely the size and general colouring
which deceive the untrained eye. On examination, almost
every part of its structure will be found to be very distinct
from that of the bee : the eyes are differently placed, and


differently formed, while their size and colour are nearly
identical with those of the bees ; the antenna?, instead of
being horny and robust, like those of the bee, are delicately
slender and feathered, like some kinds of moths ; but these,
not being conspicuous appendages, escape the attention of
the ordinary observer. The thorax is, however, furred with
orange hairs next to the head, which become yellow near to
the abdomen, leaving the centre of the thorax black; the
segments of the abdomen nearest the thorax are clothed with
yellow fur ; the central segments are black, and the last
segments, or tail, are white. This is precisely the colouring
of both the bees shown in Figs. 1 and 2 ; but then the single
pair of wings shows the trained observer that it belongs to
another and distinct order of insects, the Dipte.ra, or two-
winged order. The legs, also, have not the enlarged or
honey-bearing tibiae, and even the anatomical structure of the
body itself, though disguised by the fur clothing of the iden-
tical colour of that of the two bees, is of itself amply sufficient
to show that the insect belongs to another and very distinct

" Still," says Mr. Noel Humphreys, " the close general
resemblance of this insect, Voluceila phimata, is indisputable,
and as it passes into the nest of the bee, in order to deposit
its eggs (one to each) on many of the living larvae of the bees,
it might certainly, to a casual observer, pass for one of the
family, while entering the bees' nest on its mission of murder
to the infant bees in their cell-cradles. The egg of this
parasite being deposited in the warm folds of the soft skin of
the bee-larva is rapidly hatched, and it at once proceeds to
its unnatural feast, slowly devouring the foster parent whose
breast had warmed it into life; the bee larva being a soft,
legless grub, with no powers of escape, very closely resembling
that of the humble-bee, and indeed of the hive-bee also. The
larva of the Voluceila, with its broad tail, armed with sharp
spines, and its muscular body tapering to the head, and fur-
nished with rigid serrations along each side, forms a striking
contrast to the soft, helpless larva of the bee. Like all the
larvae of the Syrphida, to which the genus Voluceila belongs,


it is blind ; but, resting attached by the broad tail, it moves
its head rapidly about as a feeler, before changing its position.
The spikes at the tail may be adapted to enable it to raise
itself up the smooth sides of the cell of the bee larva, in case
that one infant bee should prove insufficient, and that it might
require to pass on to the next cradle. But it may be as well
to describe the progress of the parasitic larva on the sup-
position that one baby bee will prove enough for its purpose.
The devoted larva of the bee, then, is gradually eaten alive
by the parasite ; which, with seemingly horrible instinct,
spares all the actually vital parts, taking only the more fleshy
portions, until the carnivorous young Volucella feels itself full
fed and ready to undergo its torpid state of change. Then,
the last remains of the wretched infant bee are greedily con-
sumed, and the parasite passes into its sleepy chrysaline
stage, taking its long siesta in the comfortable cradle whose
infant tenant it has devoured, and from which it eventually
comes boldly forth in all the pride of its winged and perfect
state, walking out of the bee home as from its own proper
abode, and attracting no notice whatever from the bees, in
whose nursery it has performed the odious task of eating a
baby bee, and appropriating its comfortable cradle cell. The
stolid unconsciousness with which the bees allow this insect
vampire to pass out and escape from the scene of his horrid
proceedings with impunity, has induced some naturalists to
believe that the carnivorous Volucella owes its safety to its
complete disguise in the colouring of the bee, which is sup-
posed to be so perfect as to deceive the bees themselves into
the belief that these strangers are members of their own
fraternity. Messrs. Kirby and Spence observe, ' did these
intruders venture themselves among humble-bees in a less
kindred form, their lives would probably pay the forfeit of
their presumption.' This statement, however, though ap-
pearing so plausible, is not borne out by analogy, there being
many parasites on bees which do not bear the slightest re-
semblance to the insects whose nests they invade. Not only
are some of the Diptera, who deposit their eggs in the nests
of bees, very unlike the bees whose homes they infest, but


even the parasitic bees themselves do not always resemble
the bees whose nests they appropriate. For instance, the
species Eucera longicornis has a broad brownish body, without
any conspicuous mark, while its parasitic relative, Nomada
sex-fasciata, has the narrow body of a wasp, and, as its name
implies, six conspicuous yellow bands on the abdomen, which,
with the intermediate black spaces, make it a very distinct-
looking creature indeed. In some of the exotic bees more
especially, the distinct aspects of the harvesting bee and the
parasite are very striking ; they are, in fact, so much so, that
the insects might be thought to belong to entirely different
families. The beautiful Brazilian bee, Euglossa dimidiata, has
an attendant parasite as totally unlike it as it is possible to
conceive of insects of the same order. Euglossa dimidiata is
one of the most beautifully and variously coloured of the whole
bee tribe." The specimen from which our representation,
No. 3 in the coloured plate of " Bees and their Counterfeits,"
facing the title-page, is taken, " was captured by Mr. Bates,
at Para, in the Brazils ; and it is found in other tropical parts
of South America. Latreille described this handsome species
in Schomberg's Fauna of British Guiana ; but it had been
previously described by Fabricius, from specimens taken at
Cayenne, and named by him Apis dimidiata; subsequent
divisions of the family having rendered another generic name
necessary, this beautiful species was attached to the genus
Euglossa. It forms its nest by boring tubular hollows in
large reeds, and there is a specimen of a reed in the British
Museum bored in this manner by this bee, or by a bee
belonging to a closely allied genus. Into such a tube the
parasite bee penetrates, for the purpose of depositing its egg
in the cells which have been furnished with honey or pollen
by Euglossa dimidiata.

" In this case, in order to support the theory of Messrs.
Kirby and Spence, it would be more than usually necessary
that the intruder should be furnished with a very complete
disguise, as he must, in such a narrow tubular home, neces-
sarily come to very close quarters with the master of the
house. Yet, on the contrary, the whole aspect of the parasite


of Euylossa dimidiata is not only extremely different, but its
appearance is of that striking character calculated to excite
immediate attention. Instead of being soft and furry after
the fashion of the humble-bee tribe and their allies, he is
entirely hard, smooth, and glittering the entire body, thorax
and abdomen, and also the legs, being of a light vivid metallic
green, like that of our rose-beetle. It might be urged, on
the other hand, that, although not provided with a security
in the form of a disguise, a defence of another kind has been
substituted, in the suit of impenetrable plate-armour, of mag-
nificent green bronze, in which this insect is incased. But
I feel convinced that it is entirely futile to attempt to explain
the nature of providential arrangement, and point out the
secret purposes for which either apparent analogies or dis-
crepancies were devised. The best explanations offered,
indeed, are too full of contradictions to be for a moment
seriously accepted as revelations of intended purpose. As a
ready example of the contradictions to which such specu-
lations must be liable, I may mention here, that although the
parasitic bee, which infests the nests of Euylossa dimidiata, is
entirely unlike the harvesting-bee, whose home he invades,
yet the doubly-unfortunate Euglossa has a second enemy, in
the form of a gigantic Diptera, whose similarity to the bee is
most curious. This enormous fly-bee, Asilus fasciatus, has, it
is true, only two wings, but those being of deep brown to
half their length, and transparent for the remainder, bear an
extraordinary general resemblance to those of the bee ; while
the colouring of this handsome insect being nearly identical
with those of the bee, and the size and shape of the markings
being almost identical, the general resemblance becomes very
remarkable ; hence the conspicuous appearance of one enemy
is rendered utterly useless as a defence, while the seemingly
perfect disguise of another apparently favours his fatal entrance
to the nest."

The handsome Xylocopa nigrita (Figs. 1 and 2 in the
coloured plate of " Bees and their Counterfeits ") is a native
of Sierra Leone, and remarkable for the full deep velvety
black of the greater part of the body, while the sides of the


abdomen are conspicuously fringed, and partly covered, with
milk-white furry hairs ; the effect of which call to mind the
appearance of an aged negro, of the same part of the African
coast, whose woolly hair has become white with age. The
legs, also, are thickly fringed on one side with a similar
white fur, and the face is white, with large brown eyes. The
wings are nearly opaque, and of deep dull purple, with a
metallic gloss, bronzy-red towards the extremities. The
Diptera, or two-winged counterpart of this insect (Fig. 5 in
the coloured plate), " has all the characteristic contrasts of
black and white, similarly disposed, even to the white face
and brown eyes ; while the opaque, iridescent wings are pre-
cisely similar in tone and colour. The somewhat longer legs,
the single pair of wings, and the different structure of the
antennas, at once prove to the entomologist that these two
insects are not only not the same, but that they belong even
to different t orders.' They are, however, in all probability,
found together, like the other bees and Diptera which so
strongly resemble each other the larva of the Diptera, no
doubt, preying upon the larva of the bee. In proof of this
hypothesis, it may be stated that both specimens were brought
to England from the west coast of Africa, the bee from Sierra
Leone, the bee-fly from Port Natal, and probably both will
eventually be found in the same district. The bee exhibits,
in an unusual degree, a peculiarity common to many of the
family, namely, a marked difference in the general aspect of
the two sexes." The other exotic bees figured in the coloured
plate are from South America.

Some of the most beautiful of the exotic bees are parasites
and produce neither honey nor pollen ; but it is probable
that some of these may hereafter be found to have been in-
correctly classed as parasites, and be proved to be honey
collectors; for the absence of the large flattened hollo win the
tibia or middle joint of the hind leg, which appears to be
absolutely necessary to the honey carrier, is not proof positive
of parasitism, for among Andrenidw, the genus Prosopis,
although without the usual apparatus for collecting honey,
has nevertheless been recently proved to be a honey pro-


dueer, filmy cells containing liquid honey having been found
in its nest, which has been discovered formed of tubes in the
main stem of the bramble ; and that indefatigable entomolo-
gical observer, Mr. F. Smith, the well-known author of the
British Museum Catalogue of Hymenoptera, having watched
a specimen of the genus Sphecodes of the sub-family Acuti-
Hnyues while in the act of forming its burrow, discovered that
it was a pollen producer, although without the usual organs
for carrying the pollen.

" Some of the exotic bees," says Mr. Noel Humphreys,
11 are almost as richly coloured as the more gaudy butterfly
tribe, and at the same time are of such conspicuous size as
must render them very remarkable objects, winging their
rapid and always musical passage among the exuberant vege-
tation of the tropics. A thoughtful spectator seeing for the
first time in their native wilds these gigantic and magnifi-
cently tinted bees, robbing the nectaries of tropic flowers of
sweets whose mere perfume seems almost too delicious, could
scarcely forbear picturing to himself the produce of unknown
kinds of honey, of a luscious sweetness and exquisite flavour,
as yet undreamed of. If (he might reflect) those mean little
plants of wild thyme, trailing their humble stems among the
scanty herbage of our bleak northern hills, can yield delicious
honey to that poor little brown gatherer, the old hive-bee,
what may one naturally expect to be the result of honey-
gathering by such a noble race of bees as these of the tropics,
and with such exquisite flowers to gather from ! Such might
easily be conceived to" be the exclamation of an observer of
the flight of bees among the gorgeous plants in one of the
natural gardens of some intertropical valley ; and he would
think of those bees mentioned by Amer which make natural
hives of the cavities of rocks, laying up honey in large
pouches, or cells, of the size of a pigeon's egg, and which,
being dark coloured, and hanging to the sides of the hive in
clusters, look like bunches of delicious grapes, containing, in
fact, a juice far more sweet. He might think also of what
Clavigero, the Spanish historian of Mexico, says of a bee,

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