Cuckoo Bees

Cuckoo Bees

Cuckoo bees, also known as cleptoparasitic bees or cuckoo wasps, are a group of bees that have evolved a unique reproductive strategy. Instead of building their own nests and collecting pollen and nectar to feed their offspring, cuckoo bees lay their eggs in the nests of other bee species. Once the cuckoo bee egg hatches, the resulting larva will consume the provisions left by the host bee, and may even kill the host bee’s own offspring to eliminate competition for resources.

Cuckoo bees are named after the behaviour of cuckoo birds, which lay their eggs in the nests of other bird species. This bees can be found in many parts of the world, and there are hundreds of different species with a wide range of colours and sizes. Despite their unusual reproductive strategy, cuckoo bees play an important role in pollination and contribute to the overall health of ecosystems.

Cuckoo Bees


  • Cuckoo bees come in a variety of sizes and colours, depending on the species.
  • They often have a sleek and slender body shape, with a narrow waist and tapered abdomen.
  • Some bees have a metallic sheen to their exoskeleton, while others have more muted colours or patterns.
  • Cuckoo bees typically lack the pollen-collecting structures such as the pollen baskets or “scopa” found on the hind legs of other bees.
  • Some cuckoo bee species have wings that are iridescent or have distinctive patterns.
  • Female bees often have a long ovipositor, which they use to lay their eggs in the nests of other bees.

Compared to the bees they parasitize, cuckoo bees may be less hairy and have fewer specialized structures for collecting pollen and nectar.

Life Cycle:

  • They are a type of solitary bee that parasitizes other bee species.
  • The female bee seeks out the nests of other bees and lays her eggs inside their brood cells.
  • The cuckoo bee larva hatches and feeds on the food provisions left for the host bee larva, eventually killing and replacing it.
  • The cuckoo bee larva pupates inside the brood cell and emerges as an adult cuckoo bee.
  • Male cuckoo bee typically emerge first and wait near the nest to mate with newly emerged females.
  • Once mated, female cuckoo bee repeat the cycle by searching for new host nests in which to lay their eggs.


  • Cuckoo bees are solitary bee that do not construct their own nests.
  • Instead, female bees lay their eggs in the nests of other bee species, usually solitary bees.
  • Cuckoo bees do not collect pollen or nectar themselves; instead, they rely on the food provisions left for the host bee larvae.
  • They have a short adult lifespan and do not live long enough to build their own nests or raise their own young.
  • Male bees typically emerge before females and spend their time waiting near host nests to mate with newly emerged females.

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