Names and naming
Hugh D. Wilson
wilson at BIO.TAMU.EDU
Wed Jul 24 12:32:24 CDT 1996
This is in reference to the recent dialog regarding the use
technical vs. local names for communication between those with
taxonomic training and others, esp. students and 'skin-in'
(='grinders'?) colleagues. It might be me, but it seems that - of
the names employed in the discussion below - those used as *stable*
elements of communication are 'honey-bee, stingless-bee, etc.
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.
Hugh D. Wilson
Texas A&M University - Biology
h-wilson at tamu.edu (409-845-3354)
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