The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Cuckoo Bees - Thyreus spp.

Afrikaans name:

Cuckoo Bee

Photo © Steven Herbert

Thyreus spp.

I can't figure out what species of Cuckoo Bee this is, but it is a real beauty! There are many species that belong to the genus Thyreus. They have a wide distribution that includes much of Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Cuckoo bees are found in various habitats. The photo accompanying this article was taken in Durban, which has a sub-tropical climate, while other species can be found in areas such as the Karoo.

Cuckoo Bees lay their eggs in the nests of other species of bees, in particular those that collect pollen, and let them do all the hard work in raising their offspring. In this regard they are like the cuckoos of the bird world except that they don't lay their eggs in weavers’ nests - they pick on creatures their own size like bees. The female lays her egg in an unguarded cell. The resulting larva eats the food placed in the cell before emerging.

In Australia they are known as Cloak and Dagger Bees.

References and further reading

Cuckoo Bee Facts


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