The Cuckoo Bee, like its avian counterpart the Cuckoo Bird, wins the award for laziest, yet perhaps most clever parenting strategy.
The Cuckoo Bee, a type of Sweat bee, gets its name from its parasitic behavior. Female Cuckoo Bees enter another species' nest and change out the eggs of the resident Sweat bees for their own small bee eggs. They cover their tracks as they leave, pushing loose soil back over the nest's opening. Unwitting Sweat bees are easily duped and feed the young interlopers. Cuckoo Bee parents are subsequently released from the responsibility of rearing and providing for their own young.
Cuckoo Bee species vary in color. Some are yellow and black, others are red and black. Some have bands of color, others lack them. None of the adults have pollen baskets on their legs since they do not need to collect grains for offspring. They are not completely fuzzy like other bees. Instead, they look more like wasps. Adults are active in spring and summer and can be found in parks, gardens, meadows and other open habitats. They are known to be good pollinators of flowers, making them a beneficial insect in the garden and on the farm.
Scientific Name: Sphecodes spp.
Other Name(s): Sweat Bee, Halictid Bee
Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 4mm to 15mm (0.16in to 0.59in)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Ant, Bee, and Wasp Anatomy
Antennae: Ants and Bees both have a pair of antennae on the head that senses their surroundings.
Head: The head contains the insect's compound eyes, antennae, and mandibles.
Thorax: Contains various vital parts such as the aorta and nervous system.
Abdomen: Contains various organs including the heart, gut, venom glands, and anus.
Legs: Ants and Bees have three pairs of legs attached to the thorax (center-body section).
NOTE: Ants, Bees and Wasps are part of the Hymenoptera order because they share many similarities.