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Apidae

The advanced eusocial bees of the family Apidae consist of the bumblebees and the honeybee. This family also includes solitary nesting species and cleptoparasites in the subfamilies Anthophorinae and Xylocopinae. The bumblebees have an annual life-cycle very similar to that of social wasps. Queen bumblebees over-winter, and in the spring, the queen initiates a nest. The queen makes a space in the nesting material and then builds a honey pot from wax secreted beneath her gastral sterna. She fills the honey pot with regurgitated nectar. Some eggs are then laid on a mass of pollen which is surrounded by a wax cell. The queen incubates the cells. The larvae are progressively fed on a pollen-nectar mixture. The first adults are workers which build further cells and forage for food. In other species, called ‘pollen-storers’, the foraged pollen is stored in empty pupal cocoons or specially built wax cylinders. The wax from the cell is then removed and used to build further cells. Several species are social parasites; the cuckoo queen enters the colony of its host, kills the queen and uses the workers to rear new cuckoo queens and males. No cuckoo workers are reared. Queens of non-cuckoo bumble bee species, like the social wasps, also usurp colonies of the same, or different, species. Nationally, 70 species in 9 genera including 3 species confined to the Channel Islands.