Answer to the Monday Mystery: Ceratina

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Who was our mystery blue bee?

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A Ceratina small carpenter bee sends you greetings from the chives.

Five points to Alex Surcica for getting the genus, five points to Matt Bertone for picking the family (Apidae), and one point bonus point each to Alex Surcica, Étienne Normandin, and Rachel Graham for bravely attempting a species ID even though, as Doug Yanega noted on facebook,

Given the difficulty of species diagnosis in Ceratina, I’m not sure asking for the species name is much more than inciting a guess-fest.

Bees are classified in several sprawling families, and the trouble is that each seems to have its own fluffy grey bees, small metallic bees, yellow and black-striped bees, and so on. Convergence among unrelated lineages is rampant, and proper identification requires careful attention wing venation, tongue shape, and other obscure characters. Identification is not for the faint of heart, so naturally bees make great subjects for these mystery ID posts.

 

 

4 thoughts on “Answer to the Monday Mystery: Ceratina”

  1. James C. Trager

    “Convergence among unrelated lineages is rampant, and proper identification requires careful attention wing venation, tongue shape, and other obscure characters.”

    Boy, ain’t that the truth? But people say such about ants and many other groups, too. Why, even I say it about certain formicids. I suppose theis stems from evolutionary-genetic restraints on adaptive trends.

    Still, I knew this was a Ceratina and not a halictid at first glance. How? A few decades ago, I was a curatorial assistant to bee systematist Charles Michener at Kansas U, and processed a loan of Ceratina for a taxonomic study while there. So, it “just looked like it”. 🙂

    1. Now you could specify what gestalt / characteristics / pattern enable you to tell the group at a glance.

      Could be nice to employ pattern-matching instead of counting setae on a mouthpart or some other obscure character requiring dissection or a scanning EM as seems so popular these days heh.

      “evolutionary-genetic restraints on adaptive trends” – now there is a topic with some meat to it !!

      1. Pretty subjective, stuff – The shape of the base of the metasoma (the effective abdomen) is squarer in Ceratina, and the head looks like that of a small carpenter bee, while in say, Dialictus, the base of the metasoma is more tapering and the head shape more like that of a honeybee.

        I love making pithy statements and then hearing other people discuss them. 🙂

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