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Digger wasps


These insects vary greatly in size, but all have narrow “thread-like” waists. They have an effective stinger at the tip of their abdomens and are solitary hunters.

The larvae are legless. 

Until recently, the Crabronidae were included in the Sphecid family of wasps, as they are all fairly similar in appearance and behaviour. The Crabronidae are now considered a separate family.


Leafcutting bees


Leafcutting bees are stocky bees with black bodies (often with furry, lighter coloured bands on the abdomen) and broad heads. The species in Quebec are 5 to 20 mm long. Their two pairs of wings are transparent. Females have a ventral brush under the abdomen, with short hairs. Males are generally smaller than females.

Bumble bees


Bumble bees are large, stocky, hairy insects, generally from 6 to 25 mm long. Their bodies are often black and yellow, sometimes with orange, red or white markings.

The hind legs of female bumble bees are modified to help them collect and carry pollen. Their abdomens are tipped with a stinger.

They form organized societies divided into three castes. The queen is the largest insect in the colony and measures from 13 to 32 mm long. Workers – all females – vary from 7 to 18 mm, and males are from 10 to 17 mm long.

Honey bees

Apis mellifera

Honey bees have hairy bodies with thick waists. Their mouthparts are the licking-chewing type. They have two pairs of wings on the thorax held together with hooks. There are three castes in the species: the queen, workers and drones.

The queen is the largest bee in the colony, 16 to 20 mm long. Her pointed abdomen extends far beyond her wings and is tipped with an egg-laying organ.

Workers are all females, and are about 12 mm long. They have specialized structures on their legs for gathering and carrying pollen. Their abdomens have glands for producing wax, and are tipped with a stinger.

Drones are the males of the colony. They have massive bodies, 15 to 16 mm long. Their abdomens have rounded tips. They have large eyes and no stinger.

Solitary bees and social bees


Apoidae include all bees, both social and solitary. Bumble bees are also part of this Hymenopteran superfamily. These insects have two pairs of membranous wings. In flight, their wings are held together by a row of hooks on the hindwings. At rest, their wings are separated and folded over the abdomen.

Apoidae have slender waists. This characteristic gives them great flexibility in moving their abdomens, allowing a female honeybee to lay an egg at the bottom of a cell, for instance.

Most bees are black or brownish in colour, but some are bright bluish-green or metallic green, while others are banded or marked with yellow or orange and black. Many bees have smooth bodies, while others are quite hairy.

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