Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


Regional Maps


Compiler and date details

2023 - Updated and revised by Ken L. Walker, Museums Victoria, 11 Nicholson St, Carlton, Victoria, Australia

2006 - Updated and revised by Ken L. Walker, Museum Victoria, 11 Nicholson St, Carlton, Victoria, Australia

1993 - J.C. Cardale, CSIRO Division of Entomology, Canberra, Australia


The Halictidae are arguably the most interesting of bees as their sociality spans from solitary to primitively eusocial. They are the second most speciose bee family with over 4,500 species recorded worldwide (Ascher & Pickering 2023). These short-tongued bees are characterised by a short, broad, apically pointed glossa with an elongate prepalpal part of the galeae. The forewing has three submarginal cells and the basal vein is characteristically arched.

Four subfamilies are recognised: Halictinae, Nomiinae, Nomoidinae and Rhophitinae (Michener 2007). The Rhophitinae are not known to occur in Australia (Michener 2007). Flower visiting records are given in Michener (1965), Armstrong (1979), Bernhardt & Walker (1984, 1985), Bernhardt (1987) and Walker (1995, 2022a 2022b).

The Halictinae are minute to medium in size (3–12 mm) and moderately hairy bees. The subfamily has a cosmopolitan distribution and is represented in Australia by three subfamilies (Halictinae, Nomiinae and Nomiodinae) and nine genera, two of which occur in Tasmania. Pollen is carried externally in scopae on the hind legs, except in Homalictus, now a subgenus of Lasioglossum (Danforth et al. 2001), where the primary scopa is on the metasomal sterna but pollen is still carried in the femoral scopae on the hind legs. The subfamily is divided into two tribes: Halictini, with most of the Australian species placed in endemic subgenera of Lasioglossum (Michener 1979); and Augochlorini, which does not occur in Australia. One cleptoparasitic genus of the Halictini, Sphecodes, is found in Queensland. In 2004, the genus Halictus was recorded for the first time in Australia in New South Wales and is represented by an introduced species.

Halictinae usually nest in the soil, occasionally in rotting wood. Australian species may be solitary or communal, with two to many females sharing a nest, each female provisioning and laying eggs in her own cells (Michener 1960; Knerer & Schwarz 1976, 1978; Walker 1986). Polymorphic males have been found in some communal species but no social species (i.e. forming colonies with workers and one or a few queens) has been found in Australia (Houston 1970; Knerer 1980; Kukuk & Schwarz 1987, 1988). Trophallaxis has been observed in one communal species (Kukuk & Crozier 1990).

The major taxonomic revisions of Australian species of Halictinae since Michener (1965), are Walker's 1986 treatment of Homalictus, 1995 revision of Lasioglossum (Chilalictus), 1993 & 1996 treatment of the Australian Petallapis and revisions of Lasioglossum (Callalictus) and Lasioglossum (Australictus) Walker 2022a and 2022b. Michener (1978a, 1978b) revised mainly non-Australian genera and Pauly (1980a, 1980b, 1980c, 1986) worked on species of several of the genera in this catalogue.

Nomiinae are medium sized (7–12 mm), robust, moderately hairy bees that carry pollen externally in scopae on the hind legs. They have an almost cosmopolitan distribution but are not known from South America. In Australia, they are represented by four genera with only one occurring in Tasmania. The adults nest in soil and sometimes form large aggregations (Rayment 1956). No parasitic or social species are known. Pauly (1984) revised the Afrotropical genera. A major change to the nomenclature of the Australian fauna is the recombination of many of the subgenera of Nomia into Lipotriches (Michener 2000)

Nomiodinae are small bees with distinctive yellow and black transverse makings on the metasomal terga. One species is recorded for Australia and was transferred from the genus Nomoides to Ceylalictus (Michener 2000).


General References

A. Pauly 2014. Les Abeilles des Graminées ou Lipotriches Gerstaecker, 1858, sensu stricto (Hymenoptera : Apoidea : Halictidae : Nomiinae) de la Région Orientale. Belgian Journal of Entomology 21: 1–94 [Date published 28/3/2014]

Armstrong, J.A. 1979. Biotic pollination mechanisms in the Australian flora—a review. New Zealand Journal of Botany 17: 467-508 [Date published 31/12/1979]

Ascher, J.S. and Pickering, J. 2023. Discover Life bee species guide and world checklist (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila).

Bernhardt, P. 1987. A comparison of the diversity, density, and foraging behavior of bees and wasps on Australian Acacia. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Gardens 74: 42-50 [Date published 31/12/1987]

Bernhardt, P. & Walker, K. 1984. Bee foraging on three sympatric species of Australian Acacia. International Journal of Entomology 26: 322-330 [Date published 31/12/1984]

Bernhardt, P. & Walker, K. 1985. Insect foraging on Acacia retinodes var. retinodes in Victoria, Australia. International Journal of Entomology 27: 97-101 [Date published 31/12/1985]

Danforth, B.N. & S. Ji. 2001. Australian Lasioglossum + Homalictus Form a Monophyletic Group: Resolving the "Australian Enigma". Systematic Entomology 50(2): 268–283.

Houston, T.F. 1970. Discovery of an apparent male soldier caste in a nest of a halictine bee (Hymenoptera: Halictidae), with notes on the nest. Australian Journal of Zoology 18: 345-351 [Date published 31/12/1970]

Knerer, G. 1980. Evolution of halictine castes. Naturwissenschaften 67: 133-135 [Date published 31/12/1980]

Knerer, G. & Schwarz, M. 1976. Halictine social evolution: the Australian enigma. Science (Washington, D.C.) 194: 445-448 [Date published 31/12/1976]

Knerer, G. & Schwarz, M. 1978. Beobachtungen an australischen Furchenbienen (Hymenopteren; Halictinae). Zoologischer Anzeiger 200: 321-333 [Date published 31/12/1978]

Kukuk, P.F. & Crozier, R.H. 1990. Trophallaxis in a communal halictine bee Lasioglossum (Chilalictus) erythrurum (Hymenoptera: Halictidae). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 87: 5402-5404 [Date published 31/12/1990]

Kukuk, P.F. & Schwarz, M. 1987. Intranest behavior of the communal sweat bee Lasioglossum (Chilalictus) erythrurum (Hymenoptera: Halictidae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 60: 58-64 [Date published 31/12/1987]

Kukuk, P.F. & Schwarz, M. 1988. Macrocephalic male bees as functional reproductives and probable guards. Pan-Pacific Entomologist 64: 131-137 [Date published 31/12/1988]

Michener, C.D. 1960. Notes on the biology and supposed parthenogenesis of halictine bees from the Australian region. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 33: 85-96 [Date published 31/12/1960]

Michener, C.D. 1965. A classification of the bees of the Australian and South Pacific regions. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 130: 1-362 [Date published 31/12/1965]

Michener, C.D. 1978a. The parasitic groups of Halictidae (Hymenoptera, Apoidea). University of Kansas Science Bulletin 51: 291-339 [Date published 31/12/1978]

Michener, C.D. 1978b. The classification of halictine bees: tribes and Old World nonparasitic genera with strong venation. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 51: 501-538 [Date published 31/12/1978]

Michener, C.D. 1979. Biogeography of the bees. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Gardens 66: 277-347 [Date published 31/12/1979]

Michener, C.D. 2000. The Bees of the World. Baltimore, Maryland : Johns Hopkins University Press 913 pp.

Pauly, A. 1980a. Les espèces métalliques afrotropicales du sous-genre Ctenonomia du genre Lasioglossum (Hymenoptera, Apoidea, Halictidae). Revue de Zoologie Africaine 94: 1-10 [Date published 31/12/1980]

Pauly, A. 1980b. Descriptions préliminaires de quelques sous-genres afrotropicaux nouveaux de la famille des Halictidae (Hymenoptera, Apoidea). Revue de Zoologie Africaine 94: 119-125 [Date published 31/12/1980]

Pauly, A. 1980c. Les espèces indonesiennes du genre Homalictus Cockerell (Hymenoptera, Apoidea, Halictidae). Zoologische Mededelingen (Leiden) 55: 11-28 [Date published 31/12/1980]

Pauly, A. 1984. Contribution à l'étude des genres afrotropicaux de Nomiinae (Hymenoptera Apoidea Halictidae). Revue de Zoologie Africaine 98: 693-702 [Date published 31/12/1984]

Pauly, A. 1986. Les abeilles de la sous-famille des Halictinae en Nouvelle-Guinée et dans l'Archipel Bismarck (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Halictidae). Zoologische Verhandelingen (Leiden) 227: 1-58 [Date published 31/12/1986]

Rayment, T. 1956. The Nomia australica Sm. complex. Its taxonomy, morphology and biology with the description of a new mutillid wasp. The Australian Zoologist 12: 176-200 [Date published 31/12/1956]

Walker, K. 1995. Revision of the Australian native bee subgenus Lasioglossum (Chilalictus) (Hymenoptera: Halictidae). Memoirs of Museum Victoria 55: 1-423 [Date published 31/12/95]

Walker, K.L. 1986. Revision of the Australian species of the genus Homalictus Cockerell (Hymenoptera: Halictidae). Memoirs of Museum Victoria 47: 105-200 [Date published 31/12/1986]

Walker, K.L. 2022. Taxonomic revision of the Australian native bee subgenus Callalictus (Hymenoptera: Halictidae: Hallictini: genus Lasioglossum). Australian Journal of Taxonomy 1: 1-19

Walker, K.L. 2022. Taxonomic revision of the Australian native bee subgenus Australictus (Hymenoptera: Halictidae: Halictini: genus Lasioglossum) – “Wood-Splitting Axe Bees”. Memoirs of Museum Victoria 81: 135–162 [Date published 16 December 2022]


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
26-Jun-2023 APIFORMES 05-May-2023 MODIFIED Dr Ken Walker (NMV)
22-Oct-2015 APOIDEA (s. l.) 08-Jun-2022 MODIFIED
22-Oct-2015 20-Sep-2012 MODIFIED
07-Aug-2012 07-Aug-2012 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)