Social mining bees


Halictid mining bees nest in tunnels dug in the ground. Many live in social communities. In spring, several sisters of the species Halictus scabiosae share a common nest. The biggest among them acquires the leading role with the aid of her aggressive behaviour. While her sisters leave to gather pollen and nectar, she remains in the nest, protecting it from parasites and predators. She lays her eggs onto the prepared supplies of food and devours the potential eggs of her "roommates". As soon as her daughters hatch and assume the tasks of the workers in the community, she drives out her sisters. Towards the end of the summer she rears, in the nest, a new progeny of fertile individuals.


A Halictus scabiosae worker returning from her rounds with pollen.

As soon as she unloads her cargo, she returns to work, still dusty with pollen.


Queen bee guarding the entrance to her nest. Only workers are allowed in.

After the daylong pursuit of young females, the Halictus scabiosae males gather in the evening for a collective night rest.



Slovenian Museum of Natural History

                                Text and photographs by Andrej Gogala                            



Development of Social Relationships in Insects

Initiation of new nests in H. s. (*pdf)

Grintovčanke: življenje divjih čebel (*pdf)