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 (409-845-3354)

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