Most wasps and bees are solitary.
Solitary species provide their offspring with food provisions and
sometimes a nest, but never have any direct contact with their
Ants and Honey bees have
independently evolved social behaviour similar to the social Paper
wasps. Although ants and bees are readily distinguished by the lay
person, both groups are in fact derived wasps closely related to
other wasp families.
has evolved independently at least 11 times in the order
Hymenoptera, whereas in all other insects it has evolved only once
(in the Terrmites). Social wasps and bees evolved from solitary
species. There are 5 different levels of sociality (communal,
quasisocial, semisocial, subsocial and eusocial) present across
different bee and wasp families. These represent increasing levels
of co-operation between individuals within the colony.
Paper wasps, Honey
bees and ants form social colonies usually comprising a queen and
many female workers that do not reproduce, but spend their lives
defending the nest and looking after and raising their sisters.
Although colonies are long lived, reproductive males and females are
produced at regular intervals to start new colonies. After mating
the males die (ants and Paper wasps). In bees the males are present
for a whole season before being evicted from the hive. The female
stores sperm for fertilization of her eggs over a number of years.
She is destined to become queen of a new colony.
species have evolved potent venom, which they deliver via a stinging
apparatus at the tip of their abdomen to defend their nest against
© Simon van Noort