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Xylocopa caffra (Linnaeus)

(Life: Kingdom: Metazoa (animals); Phylum: Arthropoda; Class: Hexapoda; Order: Hymenoptera; Superfamily: Apoidea; Family: Apidae; Subfamily: Xylocopinae; Subfamily: Xylocopini; Genus: Xylocopa)

Apis caffra Linnaeus, 1767. Holotype in Lund (MZLU). Type locality: South Africa.

Xylocopa_caffra_phoretic_mites_enc04308_van_Noort

A female Carpenter bee, Xylocopa caffra, foraging for nectar and pollen. Three phoretic mites are visible protruding from a special cavity, called an acarinarium, on her abdomen. The cavity has evolved specifically to transport mites. The relationship is an example of a mutualism that is of benefit to both the bee and the mite. The mites hitch a ride from the nest the bee developed in to any new nests that she constructs for her off-spring. The mites feed on fungi in the nest keeping it away from the pollen provisions and her larva. Karoo National Park. Photograph Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa).


Female Xylocopa caffra, foraging for nectar and pollen. Gifberg, Western Cape. Photograph Stephen Marshall (University of Guelph).


White banded morph of female Xylocopa caffra foraging at Dans camp, Namibia. Photograph Stephen Marshall (University of Guelph). Determination by Connal Eardley 2021.

Male of probably Xylocopa caffra. Dans camp, Namibia. Photograph Stephen Marshall (University of Guelph). Determination by Connal Eardley 2021. Males are impossible to separate in this group, but X. caffra is the most common species in Namibia.


Xylocopa caffra in flight. Silvermine. Table Mountain National Park. Photograph Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa).


White banded morph of female Xylocopa caffra in Randburg, South Africa. Photographs Dave West (Randburg).


Male Xylocopa caffra in Randburg, South Africa. Photographs Dave West (Randburg).


Xylocopa_caffra_Female

Xylocopa_caffra_Male

Photographs Laurence Packer's website: Bee Tribes of the World


Photographs Iziko Museums of South Africa.


Distribution

Angola, Botswana, Cameroun, Central African Republic, Comoro Islands, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Biology

Carpenter bees bore tunnels into wood to construct a nest, which they provision with a mixture of pollen and nectar sculptured into an elongate shape. This acts as a food source for their developing larvae. A number of partitions (each containing a single larva) may be constructed within the tunnel, the partitions are made out of chewed wood.

Recorded visiting flowers of: Acacia caffra, Acacia karroo, Adenolobus pechuelii, Agave sp., Allium sp., Aloe sp., Asclepias buchenaviana, Aspalathus cordata, Aspalathus linearis, Aspalathus spinescens, Aspalathus vulnerans, Aspalathus sp., Asteraceae, Berkheya sp., Bougainvillea sp., Bauhinia purpurea, Blepharis capensis, Calpurnia sp., Cassia didymobotrya, Cassia spectabilis, Chenopodiaceae, Cleome angustifolia, Codon schenckii, Eucalyptus sp., Grewia sp., Grewia occidentalis, Herschelia graminifolia, Iridaceae sp., Liliaceae, Lebeckia sericea, Lobostemon trichotomus, Lobostemon sp., Loganiaceae, Lycium sp., Lycopersicon esculentum, Maerua schinzii, Medicago sativa, Mesembryanthemaceae, Monechma sp., Myrtaceae, Nicotiana glauca, Orpheum frutescens, Otoptera burchellii, Papilionoideae, Podalyria microphylla, Polygala pinifolia, Psoralea pinnata, Rafnia amplexicaulus, Rhus sp., Rubus sp., Ruschia sp., Salvia dentate, Satyrium hallackii, Scaevola sp., Solanum sp., Solanaceae, Tipuana tipu, Tribulus sp., Trifolium sp., Vicia flava, Zea mays. Nests in: Aloe littoralis, Aloe marlothii, Commiphora sp., Ficus sycomorus, Paranomus bracteolaris, Phragmites australis, Pinus patula, Polygala leptophylla, Prosopis chilensis, Protea sp., Salix babylonica, Widdringtonia cedarbergensis (Eardley & Urban, 2010).

Parasitized by: Anthrax badius, Coelopencyrtus callainus, Dinogamasus braunsi, Dinogamasus cockerelli, Hyperechia bifasciata, Hyperechia nigripennis, Physocephala bimarginipennis, Sennertia sp., Synhoria hottentota (Eardley & Urban, 2010).

References

Eardley, C.D. 1983. A taxonomic revision of the genus Xylocopa Latreille (Hymenoptera: Anthophoridae) in southern Africa. Entomology Memoir, Department of Agriculture, Republic of South Africa 58: 67pp.

Eardley, C & Urban, R. 2010. Catalogue of Afrotropical bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Apiformes). Zootaxa 2455: 1-548.

Michener, C.D. 2000. The Bees of the World. Johns Hopkins University Press. 953 pp.

Credits

Photographs of living Xylocopa Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa) or Stephen Marshall (University of Guelph).

Photographs of specimens in SAMC Iziko Museums of South Africa.

Photographs of preserved Xylocopa Laurence Packer's website: Bee Tribes of the World

Map illustration Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa).


Web author Simon van Noort (Iziko South African Museum)

 

Citation: van Noort, S. 2023. WaspWeb: Hymenoptera of the Afrotropical region. URL: www.waspweb.org (accessed on <day/month/year>).

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