Apis cerana. In my garden. June 1st 2018.

Apis cerana, worker bee. ​Far East Flora. August 30 2017.

I come to learn that bees are not just drab and dull looking, and neither are they all yellow and black. There are also colourful bees and wasps as well. Discovering the Thyreus, the Pearly Banded bee and the Blue Banded bee was a pleasant surprise!

Bees, wasps and ants are closely related under the Order Hymenoptera. Bees and wasps have stings and wings, although some might have lost their ability to fly. Ants are flightless except during the mating season. The bees are important pollinators essential in the agricultural industry, and vital to our ecosystem

Amegilla andrewsi (Blue-banded bee) feeding on M. caeruleum. Singapore Botanic Gardens Keppel Wetlands. June 14th 2018. 

Memecylon caeruleum is an evergreen, few to many-branched shrub or small tree, usually growing 3 – 6 metres tall, but occasionally reaching 12 metres.The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, and possibly also for its wood.

Many of the bees and wasps pictured below have been captured in my garden. I didn’t realise how many varieties of bees and wasps locally existed, until I started photographing them. Now I look carefully at any flying insect around the house or in the Nature Parks with the hope of seeing something new.

Thyreus. In my Garden. May 28th 2018.

Amegilla andrewsi. In my garden.May 29th 2018. 

92-year-old Sir David Attenborough says that, “It is a fact that without bees our world would be a very different place. A world without honeybees would also mean a world without fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Recently there has been a dramatic decline in bee populations, which, if it gets worse, will have a detrimental impact on the environment and on life as we know it.” He warns that we humans would only have four years to live if bees became extinct. Already in the last 5 years the bee population has dropped by 1/3.

Apis ceranaQueensway. May 24th 2018.

A. cerana has been raised in Asian countries for thousands of years and has brought considerable economic benefits to the apicultural industry. Now their population is in decline.

The face of a Honey bee. Apis cerana.

Apidae. Stingless bee. Queensway, May 24th 2018.

Stingless bees are organisms of high ecological importance.  They have provided resources and have been part of the social and religious life of several peoples that have developed management techniques of these insects which are technically called “meliponiculture” which aims to provide honey  an important food and medicine.

Nomia strigata female. Inside my house. June 22nd 2018.

Nomia strigata appears blue green in flight due to its apical intertegumental coloured bands on its abdomen that have an iridescent colouration (Fig. 7). In their adult form, they are small to medium sized, with a generally black body including its legs and is well-furred especially on its face and thorax. Spotted trying to get out of my glass window

Holland Grove Walk. 27th September 2017.

The Pearly-banded Bee of the genus Nomia (Nomia incerta female), builds its nests in the soil. This colourful species is especially common in secondary forests, such as those in Macritchie Reservoir Nature Park. This bee was found in my house today. Thanks to Prof. John Ascher for the ID. The most similar looking bees to Nomia strigata are Nomia iridescens and Nomia incerta. All three bees have the distinctive coloured intertegumental bands found on at least T2 to T4. However, on closer inspection, N. iridescens and N. incerta are both missing the coloured band on T1​.

 A black-reed bee (Braunsapis). In my garden. October 4th 2017.

Braunsapis (pronounced: brawns-eh-pis) are probably the most common non-eusocial bees in Singapore’s urban gardens. They are also among Singapore’s tiniest! This might explain why they often go unnoticed in Singapore. Braunsapis bees build their nests in dead, dry and pithy stems. For this reason, Braunsapis are sometimes commonly referred to as “Reed Bees”. 

Apis andreniformis. In my garden. 1 Sept.2017. 

Apis andreniformis, or the black dwarf honey bee, is a relatively rare species of honey bee whose native habitat is the tropical and subtropical regions of Southeast Asia.

 Apis dorsata, the giant honey bee. Taken at a Florist at Queensway. March 1st 2018.

Note that the hairs on the thorax have clear colour separation between the black in the front and pale yellow on the back.

Xylocopa latipes. In my garden. April 24th 2018.

Xylocopa latipes, the tropical carpenter bee, is a species of carpenter bee widely dispersed throughout Southeast Asia. As its name suggests, this bee inhabits forests in warm tropical climates and constructs nests by burrowing into wood. Wikipedia

Female Xylocopa latipes in flight.

Male Xylocopa latipes in flight.

Thyreus is an Old World genus of bees, one of many that are commonly known as cuckoo bees, and are cleptoparasites of other species of bees, mostly in the genus Amegilla. They all have strongly contrasting patterns of coloration. Picture taken in my garden.

Amegilla andrewsi, commonly known as the blue-banded bee, is an Australian native bee that occurs in many other regions. Blue-banded bees can sting, but are not as aggressive as other bees. They appear to be more rapid in movement than other bees. The males cling to plant stems during the night. They are solitary creatures, with single females inhabiting burrows in the soil or soft stone, unlike social species such as honey bees, which live in large colonies.