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Temporal range: Eocene–Present
Macropis europaea4.jpg
Macropis europaea, female
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Clade: Euarthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Clade: Anthophila
Family: Melittidae


Melittidae is a small bee family, with over 200 described species[1] in three subfamilies.[2] The family has a limited distribution, with all described species restricted to Africa and the northern temperate zone.[1]

Melittids are typically small to moderate-sized bees, which are well known for their specialist and oligolectic foraging habits.[3]

Fossil melittids have been found occasionally in Eocene amber deposits, including those of Oise, France[4] and the Baltic amber.[5]


Early molecular work suggested that the family Melittidae was sister to all other bees, and also that it was paraphyletic.[6][7] Because of this finding, it was suggested that the three subfamilies of Melittidae should be elevated to family status.[6] Neither study included many melittids, due to their rarity. A 2013 investigation included a greater number of melittid bees and concluded that the family was probably monophyletic, thus supporting Melittidae sensu lato as a family sister to all other bees.[2]


  1. ^ a b Michez D. (2008) Monographic revision of the melittid bees (Hymenoptera, Apoidea, Melittidae sensu lato). Proc. Neth. Entomol. Soc. Meet. 19: 31-39.
  2. ^ a b Hedtke, Shannon H. (2013). "The bee tree of life: a supermatrix approach to apoid phylogeny and biogeography". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 13 (138): 1–13. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-13-138. 
  3. ^ C. D. Michener (2000) The Bees of the World, Johns Hopkins University Press.
  4. ^ Michez, Denis; Nel, Andre; Menier, Jean-Jacques; Rasmont, Pierre (2007). "The oldest fossil of a melittid bee (Hymenoptera: Apiformes) from the early Eocene of Oise (France)" (PDF). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 150: 701–709. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2007.00307.x. 
  5. ^ Engel, MS (2001). "A monograph of the Baltic Amber bees and evolution of the Apoidea (Hymenoptera)". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 259: 1–192. doi:10.1206/0003-0090(2001)259<0001:amotba>;2. 
  6. ^ a b Danforth, B.N., Sipes, S., Fang, J., Brady, S.G. (2006). "The history of early bee diversification based on five genes plus morphology". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 103: 15118–15123. doi:10.1073/pnas.0604033103. PMC 1586180Freely accessible. PMID 17015826. 
  7. ^ Danforth, Bryan. "Bees-a primer" (PDF). Current Biology. 17 (5): 156–161. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2007.01.025. 

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