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Hylaeus (Macrohylaeus) alcyoneus (Family Colletidae)

Blue Banksia Bee



Occurs across southern Australia, but confined chiefly to the wetter coastal areas (Shark Bay to Esperance; Adelaide to Brisbane and in Tasmania). (NSW, QLD, VIC, SA, TAS, WA)


A medium-sized bee (body length about 10–12 mm), with a relatively hairless black body, abdomen with a bluish iridescence and face and thorax with areas of yellow (as in many species of Hylaeus). Differs from superficially similar species in lacking yellow markings on the midline of the thorax and having the face yellow on the midline as well as the sides in both sexes.

Ecology/Way of Life:

Although this species is most often observed on flowers of Banksia, it occasionally visits flowers of other members of the family Proteaceae. Males either fly from flower head to flower head in search of females or they perch on the crest of a flower head and defend it against intrusion by rival males. Males vary greatly in size and it is the large males, which have a pair of stout spines beneath the abdomen, that have the greatest success defending territories. Females nest solitarily in vacated burrows of wood-boring insects in the stems or branches of various shrubs. As in other Hylaeus, the brood cells are constructed of a cellophane-like material derived from a salivary secretion.

Preferred Image

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

No commercial value. Females will sting but only if molested.

Other Comments:

Hylaeus alcyoneus (named by W.F. Erichson in 1842 as a species of Prosopis). Based on Latin: Hylaeus = mythological canine character; alcyon = kingfisher.

Further Reading:

Houston, T.F. (1981). A revision of the Australian hylaeine bees (Hymenoptera: Colletidae). II. Australian Journal of Zoology Supplementary Series 80: 1-128.




Text, image of Bee on Banksia marginata by Terry Houston. Map sourced from Houston (1981) and the Western Australian Museum. Main image copyright David Pike.

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Images and Multi-media:  
Distribution Map  
image/jpeg 29922 bytes Hylaeus (Macrohylaeus) alcyoneus distribution
Attached Image  
image/jpeg 45888 bytes Hylaeus (Macrohylaeus) alcyoneus (Male on flower head of Banksia marginata)
Attached Image  
image/jpeg 34660 bytes Drawing of face of male of Hylaeus (Macrohylaeus) alcyoneus showing colour pattern
Attached Image  
image/jpeg 35267 bytes Drawing of face of female of Hylaeus (Macrohylaeus) alcyoneus showing colour pattern.
Attached Image  
image/jpeg 47946 bytes Hylaeus (Macrohylaeus) alcyoneus (Male)

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