Classification of the Bee Sphecoid Clade

Lomholdt (1982), Brothers (1975), Michener (1944, 1979a), Gauld and Bolton (1988), and others, including older authors such as Comstock (1924), have advocated placing the sphecoid wasps and the bees in the same superfamily. The custom of separating them as the su-perfamilies Sphecoidea and Apoidea obscures their close relationship to one another, as compared to other super-families of aculeate Hymenoptera. It has been common to recognize only one family of sphecoid wasps in spite of their considerable diversity, but to recognize several families of bees.

The placement of sphecoid wasps and bees in the same superfamily has led authors such as Gauld and Bolton (1988) and Melo and Gongalves (2005) to recognize only two major families in the superfamily, Sphecidae and Ap-idae s. l., thus correcting the inconsistent classificatory treatment of the sphecoid wasps vs. the bees. Both the Sphecidae and the Apidae in this sense seem diverse; subjectively, they seem to contain groups at least as different from one another as the families of Chalcidoidea. Moreover, the Sphecidae—in the sense of sphecoid wasps or Spheciformes—is paraphyletic (see Sec. 14). A better idea, therefore, is to divide both sphecoid wasps and bees into several families. Lomholdt (1982) divided the sphecoid wasps into Sphecidae and Larridae (= Crabron-idae), as noted above. This eliminates the paraphyly ofthe Sphecidae s. l. Several families of bees are long established and already have subordinate taxa considered as subfamilies, tribes, etc. It seems desirable to maintain them. Melo and Gongalves (2005), however, have in general reduced bee families to subfamilies of Apidae, many subfamilies to tribes, and various tribes to subtribes.

Because a family-group name based on the generic name Apis antedates a name based on Sphex (Michener,

1986a), the name of the bee-sphecoid superfamily should be Apoidea, not Sphecoidea as most previous works have had it. This is not unreasonable, since the bees are a much larger group than the sphecoid wasps. The Apoidea in this sense is divided into families, some of which (Sphecidae, Crabronidae, etc.) are wasps and constitute the informal paraphyletic group or Series Spheciformes of Brothers (1975), while the others (Colletidae, Apidae, etc.) are bees, the Series Apiformes of Brothers and the An-thophila of some older authors. This classification is summarized in Table 15-1.

I have used Crabronidae in the discussion above without bias concerning recognition of several additional families, for example as was done by Krombein (1979). I suspect that recognition of such families is desirable. The following sections will consider what bee families should be recognized.

Table 15-1. Classification of the Superfamily Apoidea.

Families Series

Family Ampulicidae Family Sphecidae Family Crabronidae

(could be subdivided) Family Stenotritidae Family Colletidae Family Andrenidae Family Halictidae Family Melittidae Family Megachilidae Family Apidae sphecoid wasps, or Spheciformes bees, or Apiformes

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