Australia’s Cuckoo Bees

These criminals of the bee world are deceptively beautiful. They buzz through the garden, bright colours or patterns grabbing the attention of the attentive gardener, but they work against other bee beauties.

They are also known as “Cloak and Dagger Bees”.

Coelioxys species use the newly built nests of Megachile species to lay their own eggs. The young hatchlings consume the nutrients left for the Megachile babies much like the cuckoos of the bee world.

Spectacular Thyreus species follow the Amegilla species and take over their burrows for their own young.

The Neon Cuckoo Bee (Thyreus nitidilus) is a delight of bright blue that tempts any nature photographer to stall and click away until the bee leaves. Click here for a slow motion video as one forages on Perennial Basil.

The paler blue of the Chequered Cuckoo Bee (Thyreus caeruleopunctatus) and the spots that give it its common name are likewise intriguing.

The Domino Cuckoo Bee (Thyreus lugubris) is similar to its chequered cousin but her patterns are black and white.

Regardless of their ominous intent, they are lovely to observe and any contribution to biodiversity is hopefully positive for all organisms.

Want a Pocket-book Guide to help you identify Australian bees in your garden? This is my favourite:

Bees & other beneficial insects: a pocket-book guide by Megan Halcroft. Buy it here.

Other relevant resources:

YouTube Australian Bee Playlist

Aussie Bee – lots of information!

Australian Bee Diversity with Dr Tobias Smith

Interview with Dr Kit Prendergast

Building Bee Hotels- video

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