by Stephen Thorpe (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Research Associate, University of Auckland
The bees of New Zealand have been documented quite recently (2007) by the appropriately initialled B. Donovan. However, another one has recently turned up. So far, it is only known in N.Z. from six males collected by me, all on the Tamaki Campus, Auckland. It is a masked bee (see photo) belonging to the vast genus Hylaeus.
It belongs to a subgenus, Gnathoprosopis, not otherwise represented in N.Z. I have identified it as Hylaeus euxanthus, a common and widespread species in Australia (see Houston, 1981). MPI are in the process of getting the ID validated. The first two specimens captured had black mandibles, which is unusual for the species in Australia, and therefore put the ID in a little doubt, but subsequent specimens clearly have yellow mandibles. It would be useful to find females, which will have less of a yellow mask, but so far no luck.
The species may be of some interest to those studying pollination ecology in N.Z. There is clearly a lot of scope for further research on this species in N.Z. How widespread is it? Is it spreading? Will it compete with native bees? What are its flower visiting preferences? My specimens were found visiting kanuka flowers in November and December, and sweet fennel flowers in late February. The males have a pair of tubercles on the underside of the gaster (abdomen), which are variably developed. They are clearly visible in the lower photo. The species is immediately distinguished from other Hylaeus in N.Z. by having the first antennal segment (scape) short and entirely yellow.
Donovan, B.J. 2007: Apoidea (Insecta: Hymenoptera). Fauna of New Zealand, (57) www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/books/fauna-of-nz-series/extracts/fnz57
Houston, T.F. 1981: A revision of the Australian hylaeine bees (Hymenoptera: Colletidae). II. Australian journal of zoology, supplementary series, (80) doi: 10.1071/AJZS080