Sphecodes cuckoo bee

The story of a cuckoo bee looking for a host nest.


Picture yourself in a flowering grassland. It is early spring, and the sun is shining on your wings.

Oh, yes, I forgot to mention you are a blood bee. Be reassured, you have nothing to do with blood, except for the bright red color of your abdomen. And anyway, there’s no time to brag or to sunbathe. You’re not the type of bee to work hard all day and gather food for you youngs. You are the type to work hard all day to steal other bees’ labor! You feed on some nectar, but what you are really looking for is a patch of soil allowing groundbees to nest. Nests to invade, that’s what you want. You are a cuckoo bee, an intruder hymenoptera. A kleptoparasite.

Here, you found a nest, perfect! You sneakily walk around, judging if somebody is home. It looks safe. You enter the nest, and look for a cellchamber. Your trespassing must be quick, otherwise it will be pointless. But finally, you find the promised loot, a big ball of willow pollen. Already set with an egg. You crush the egg, and put one of your own in its place. The deed done, it is time to leave and look for another nest!


Bogusch, P., Kratochvíl, L. and Straka, J. (2006) ‘Generalist cuckoo bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Sphecodes) are species-specialist at the individual level’, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 60(3), pp. 422–429. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-006-0182-4.