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Bee PD foto explained1.jpg
Apis mellifera, the western honeybee
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Suborder: Apocrita
Superfamily: Apoidea



Incertae sedis

The superfamily Apoidea is a major group within the Hymenoptera, which includes two traditionally recognized lineages, the "sphecoid" wasps, and the bees. Molecular phylogeny demonstrates that the bees arose from within the Crabronidae, so that grouping is paraphyletic.


Bees appear in recent classifications to be a specialized lineage of crabronid wasps that switched to the use of pollen and nectar as larval food, rather than insect prey; this makes the Crabronidae a paraphyletic group. Accordingly, bees and sphecoids are now all grouped together in a single superfamily, and the older available name is "Apoidea" rather than "Sphecoidea" (which, like Spheciformes, has been used in the past, but also defined a paraphyletic group and has been abandoned).

As bees (not including their wasp ancestors) are still considered a monophyletic group, they are given a grouping between superfamily and family to unify all bees, Anthophila.[1]


This cladogram is based on Debevic et al 2012, which used molecular phylogeny to demonstrate that the bees (Anthophila) arose from deep within the Crabronidae, which is therefore paraphyletic. The Heterogynaidae are also broken up.[2] The small subfamily Mellininae was not included in their analysis.



"Heterogynaidae" (part)

Sphecidae (sensu stricto)

Crabroninae (part of "Crabronidae")

(rest of "Crabronidae")


Nyssonini, Astatinae

"Heterogynaidae" (part)

Pemphredoninae, Philanthinae

Anthophila (bees)


  1. ^ Engel, M.S. (2005). Family-group names for bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea). American Museum Novitates 3476: 1–33.
  2. ^ Debevec, Andrew H.; Cardinal, Sophie; Danforth, Bryan N. (2012). "Identifying the sister group to the bees: a molecular phylogeny of Aculeata with an emphasis on the superfamily Apoidea" (PDF). Zoologica Scripta 41 (5): 527–535. doi:10.1111/j.1463-6409.2012.00549.x. 

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