Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


Regional Maps


Compiler and date details

30 March 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 Megachilidae are a family of long-tongued, small to very large (5–39 mm), robust bees. The family is cosmopolitan and divided into two subfamilies: the cosmopolitan Megachilinae, and the Fideliinae, found only in the Afrotropical and Neotropical Regions (Michener 2000).

Adults transport pollen externally on a scopa on the metasomal sterna. There are two submarginal cells in the forewing. The basitibial and pygidial plates are absent except in males of the genus Lithurgus, which have a pygidial plate. All species are solitary and nests are often made in pre-existing burrows, but nests may also be built in mud nests of other Hymenoptera or, in a few species, fully exposed on rocks or plants. Species of Lithurge provision their cells with coarse-grained pollen, mainly from flowers of Malvaceae, and nest in burrows in dead wood (Houston 1971). The genus Coelioxys is cleptoparasitic. Rozen (1973) and King (1984) described larvae, and flower visiting records are given in Michener (1965) and Armstrong (1979).

The Megachilinae are characterized by a short jugal lobe on the hind wing. In Australia, three of the five tribes of the subfamily are represented: two genera, Afranthidium and Anthidellum in the tribe Anthidini; the genus Lithurgus in the tribe Lithurgini; and the genera Coelioxys and Megachile in the tribe Megachilini. In Australia, Afranthidium is represented by a single introduced species; Anthidellum and Lithurgus species are found only in the northern half of the continent; and the numerous species of Megachile are widespread.

The most recent work on the Australian species is by King & Exley (1985a, 1985b, 1985c).


General References

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]

Bray, R.A. 1973. Characteristics of some bees of the family Megachilidae in southeast Queensland and their potential as lucerne pollinators. Journal of the Australian Entomological Society 12: 99-102 [Date published 31/12/1973]

Hacker, H. 1915. Notes on the genus Megachile and some rare insects collected during 1913–14. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 3: 137-141 [Date published 31/12/1915]

Houston, T.F. 1971. Notes on the biology of a lithurgine bee (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae) in Queensland. Journal of the Australian Entomological Society 10: 31-36 [Date published 31/12/1971]

Houston, T.F. & Pike, D.T. 2013. Aerial brood cells constructed by some Australian resin bees (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae) and a case of gregarious nesting. Australian Entomologist 40(2): 67-78

King, J. 1984. Immature stages of some Megachilidae (Hymenoptera: Apoidea). Journal of the Australian Entomological Society 23: 51-57 [Date published 31/12/1984]

King, J. & Exley, E.M. 1985a. A reinstatement and revision of the Genus Thaumatosoma Smith (Apoidea: Megachilidae). Journal of the Australian Entomological Society 24: 87-92 [Date published 31/12/1985]

King, J. & Exley, E.M. 1985b. A revision of Chalicodoma (Chalicodomoides) Michener (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Journal of the Australian Entomological Society 24: 187-191 [Date published 31/12/1985]

King, J. & Exley, E.M. 1985c. A revision of Chalicodoma (Rhodomegachile) Michener (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Journal of the Australian Entomological Society 24: 199-204 [Date published 31/12/1985]

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. 1983. The classification of the Lithurginae (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Pan-Pacific Entomologist 59: 176-187 [Date published 31/12/1983]

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

Rayment, T. 1928. Studies of Australian bees. I. The leaf-cutting bees (Megachile macularis, Dalla Torre, and other species). II. The clay-bees. (Lithurgus atratiformis, Cockerell). Victorian Naturalist 45: 79-86 [Date published 31/12/1928]

Rayment, T. 1935. A Cluster of Bees. Sixty essays on the life-histories of Australian bees, with specific descriptions of over 100 new species, and an introduction by Professor E.F. Phillips, D.Ph., Cornell University, U.S.A. Sydney : Endeavour Press. 752 pp.

Rozen, J.G. 1973. Immature stages of lithurgine bees with descriptions of the Megachilidae and Fideliidae based on mature larvae (Hymenoptera, Apoidea). American Museum Novitates 2527: 1-14 [Date published 31/12/1973]


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)
14-Aug-2013 14-Aug-2013 MODIFIED
22-Oct-2015 20-Sep-2012 MODIFIED
07-Aug-2012 07-Aug-2012 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)