Sphecodes albilabris (Blood Bee sp.)


Sphecodes albilabris (sometimes also called: Giant Blood Bee) is a genus of bees within the family Halictidae, the majority of which are black and red in colour and are colloquially known as "blood bees".
There are about 20 types of blood bees in the Netherlands, only 3 of which are common.
They are the most difficult bee species to identify.
However, Sphecodes albilabris is fairly easy to recognize by its size (1 - 1.5 cm) compared to the other blood bees, which are much smaller.
The females have dark wings and the males have distinct white hairs on the front of their heads.
Sphecodes albilabris is mainly found on sandy soils.

Sphecodes bees are cleptoparasitic on other bees, but Sphecodes albilabris mainly parasitizes on Colletes cunicularius: the female eats the egg of Colletes cunicularius and then lays her own egg in the same nest.
The adults consume nectar and are polylactic, i.e. generalist feeders, but because they use other bees to bring up their offspring they do not collect pollen.

Egmond, The Netherlands, 28 May 2021

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