Bees are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants. Bees are monophyletic lineage within the super family Apoidea, presently classified by the unranked taxon name Anthophila. There are nearly 20,000 known species of bee, in nine recognized families, though many are undescribed and the actual number is probably higher. They are found on very continent except Antarctica, in every habitat on the planet that contains insect-pollinated flowering plants. Bees are adapted for feeding on nectar and pollen, the former primarily as an energy source, and the latter primarily for protein and other nutrients. Most pollen is used as food for larvae.
Bees have a long proboscis ( a complex “tongue” ) that enables them to obtain the nectar from flowers. They have antennae almost universally made up of 13 segments in males and twelve in females, as is typical for the super family. Bees all have two pairs of wings, the hind pair being the smaller of the two, in a very few species, one sex or caste has relatively short wings that make flight difficult or impossible, but none is wingless.
The smallest bee is Trigona minima, a stingless bee whose workers are about 2.1 mm (5/64’’) long. The largest bee in the world is Megachile Pluto, a leafcutter bee whose females can attain a length of 39 mm (1.5’’). Members of the family Halictidae, or sweat bees, are the most common type of bee in the Northern Hemisphere, though they are small and often mistaken for wasp or flies.
Bees are the favorite meal of Merops apiaster, the bee-eater bird. Other common predators are...