Long-Horned Bees

Long-Horned Bees and Sun-Flower Bees (Genera Melissodes and Svastra)

Long-horned bees all belong to the Tribe Eucerini, and are the most diverse group in the Family Apidae. They include several closely related genera of bees with similar appearances, including: Eucera, Melissodes, Cemolobus, Svastra (sunflowers bees), Peponapis (squash bees), and Xenoglossa (squash bees). Svastra bees are often referred to as sunflower bees, since they heavily feed on and pollinate sunflowers (Family Asteraceae: Genus Helianthus); Many species of long-horned bees (including Melissodes and Svasta) are specialists (Oligolectic) on the Asteraceae family.

Melissodes communis - Male

Melissodes communis – Male

Size: Medium to Very Large (Melissodes species 9-15 mm) (Svastra species 11-20 mm)

{Size Comparison-the average honeybee is 13mm}

Color: Wide-ranging. Very hairy bees with light brown, black and/or white colored hair covering the head and thorax; usually with hair patterns on the abdomen

Type of Flight: Fast Flight Speed; Mid to high level flyers; Forage on flowers in a circular motion

Distinguishing Characteristics:

(1) In most species, the face is black with various (black to yellow to white) colored hair

(2) Melissodes males have very long antennae (often reaching the front or middle of the abdomen). Svastra males exhibit longer antennae than females, but not to the degree of Melissodes males. In long-horned bee species,  males have yellow or cream colored marking on the face; however, this feature is often obscured by hair.

(3) Females have unusually bushy pollen-carrying hairs (scopa) compared to other bees; these hairs are located on the bottom half of their hind legs (tibia and basitarsus)

(4) They often have colored hair patterns of stripes, chevrons, and/or blotches

Svastra obliqua-face

Svastra obliqua

Abundance in Georgia: Svastra – Uncommon to Rare; Melissodes – Uncommon to Locally Common

Typically Found in Georgia: May to October (some species with brief occurrence periods)

Pollination Value: Very High (native plants); Low (some species may pollinate mid-summer agricultural crops)

Plants Associated with: Wildflowers in the Family Asteraceae (goldenrod, asters, sunflowers)

Classification: Family: Apidae       Genus: Melissodes and Svastra

Number of Species in Georgia: 19 species of Melissodes, 5 species of Svastra

Number of Species in the U.S.: 97 species of Melissodes, 16 species of Svastra

Photos taken by Sam Droege and staff at the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory (Used with permission)

–> Click on the photo to enlarge the image


Svastra atripes-Female Side View

Svastra atripes-Female Side View

Svastra atripes-Female Face

Svastra atripes-Female Face

Svastra aegis-Side view

Svastra aegis-Side view

Svastra aegis-Face

Svastra aegis-Face

Svastra aegis-Dorsal view

Svastra aegis-Dorsal view

Melissodes desponsa - top view

Melissodes desponsa – top view

Melissodes bimaculata - top view

Melissodes bimaculata – top view