Neon Cuckoo Bee

Bright blue and black bee feeding on sweet basil flower
Neon Cuckoo Bee feeding on Sweet Basil flower

This is an insect which has been eluding me for at least a year, since I first saw a very bright blue insect (wasp? fly? bee?) flying around my lawn. I have only seen them occasionally since then – perhaps half a dozen times altogether – and they always vanished too fast to identify. All I was sure of, until this one was good enough to permit a photo, was that they were about the size of a honey bee.

As the common name says, it is a bee – a native Australian bee, in fact – and ‘Neon’ obviously comes from its colour, but what about ‘Cuckoo’?

Well, it lays eggs in another species’ nest, just as real cuckoos do. To quote Wikipedia, “The female neon cuckoo bee seeks out the burrow nests of the blue-banded bee (Amegilla cingulata), and lays an egg into a partly completed brood cell while it is unguarded. The larval cuckoo bee then consumes the larder and later emerges from the cell.” Its victim, the Blue-banded Bee, is a common sight in my garden and a photo appeared in this recent post.

The Cuckoo Wasp I wrote about in March uses the same reproductive strategy (see the Brisbane Insects page about them for more information). I wonder if any other kinds of animal do?

5 thoughts on “Neon Cuckoo Bee”

  1. Hi Guys, I am in Bluewater and currently have a basil plant heavily in flower. It is alive with Cuckoo Bees, however I had no idea what it was. I stumbled over this site and now have a name for these beautiful insects. Thanks. Greg.

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