bee taxonomy

Leonard Krishtalka kris at FALCON.CC.UKANS.EDU
Wed Jul 24 10:10:45 CDT 1996

> >A quick query for the bee taxonomists out there - what is the current
> >on the family placement of Trigona?  Is Trigonidae acceptable or has the
> >family been fused with Apidae?
> >
        Reply from Byron Alexander, Natural History Museum & Biodiversity
Research Center, The University of Kansas

REPLY:  Most bee taxonomists would place Trigona in the family Apidae,
        rather than assigning it to its own family.  Authorities disagree
        about the boundaries of the family Apidae, however.  For most of
        this century, it has most commonly been restricted to a relatively
        small number of species in which the female carries pollen on a special
        structure on the hind tibia called the corbicula.  This group includes
        the stingless bees (Trigona and its closest relatives), the honey bees
        (Apis), bumble bees (Bombus and Psithyrus), and the orchid bees.
        Others (most notably a group at The Natural History Museum in London)
        place all bees in one family, which is called Apidae.  An
        intermediate position, recently championed by Charles Michener at the
        University of Kansas, is to use the name Apidae for the bees with
        corbicula, plus all of the long-tongued bees formerly placed in the
        family Anthophoridae.
        Similar differences of opinion exist about delineating the genus
        Trigona -- the name has been used to refer to almost all of the
        stingless bees (except for Melipona and a few nest-robbing forms), or
        it has been used in a more restricted way.  As far as I know,
        there is no general consensus about how many genera of stingless bees
        should be recognized.

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