Neon Cuckoo Bee

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Neon cuckoo beeGenus: Thyreus
Species: Thyreus nitidulus
Common names: Neon Cuckoo Bee
ALA reference

Unfortunately this photo doesn’t capture the spectacular iridescent metallic blue body seen when the bee is in flight. Surprisingly however, this outrageously beautiful bee hides a dark secret. Like its feathered namesake this bee is a cuckoo. The female lays her eggs in the nests of other bees, particularly that of the blue-banded bee. The egg is placed in the brood chamber during construction and when the nest is finally sealed the egg hatches and the larva feeds on the provisions intended for the larva of the host bee. I didn’t see this bee gather any nectar from the Commelina flowers so I suspect that it wasn’t there for an innocent feed but came for the rather more sinister task of seeking a suitable blue-banded bee to act as a surrogate mother for its eggs.

(April 2012)