The genus Colletes (plasterer bees) is a large group of ground-nesting bees of the family Colletidae. They occur primarily in the Northern Hemisphere. They tend to be solitary, but sometimes nest close together in aggregations. Species in the genus build cells in underground nests that are lined with a cellophane-like plastic secretion, a true polyester,[2] earning them the nickname polyester bees.[3]

Colletidae - Colletes hederae-2.JPG
Colletes hederae
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Colletidae
Subfamily: Colletinae
Genus: Colletes
Latreille, 1802 [1]

over 450

Colletes cuniculariusin nest entrance
Colletes phaceliae

As of 2012 there were about 469 described species, and an estimated total around 700.[4] They occur throughout the world except in Antarctica, Australia, Madagascar, and Southeast Asia.[4] There are about 60 species in Europe[4] and about 100 in North America north of Mexico.[5]



  1. ^ "Colletes". Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
  2. ^ Hefetz, A., et al. (1979). Natural polyesters: Dufour's gland macrocyclic lactones form brood cell laminesters in Colletes bees. Science 204(4391), 415-17.
  3. ^ Eveleth, R. and D. Chachra. Can Bees Make Tupperware? Scientific American December 19, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c Proshchalykin, M. Y. and M. Kuhlmann. (2012). The bees of the genus Colletes Latreille 1802 of the Ukraine, with a key to species (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Colletidae). Zootaxa 3488 1-40.
  5. ^ Deyrup, M. A. and L. D. Deyrup. (2011). Colletes francesae, a new species of colletid bee (Hymenoptera: Colletidae) associated with Sideroxylon tenax (Sapotaceae) in Florida scrub habitat. Florida Entomologist 94(4) 897-901.

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