An Annotated

Catalogue of the

Bee Species of the

Indian Region







Madhu (honey) and wax have been an integral part of human social system for the last five thousand years or so. The fascinating creatures that provide us these useful products are commonly known as honey bees [Genus Apis species].  Certainly bees might have attracted the attention of ancient men when they observed their life style concentrated in a perfect social setup. It led to a lot of learning that proliferated into further evolution of human social life on earth. The uninterrupted labour, continuous devotion and loyalty of bees for the prosperity of their own race have led to further learnings that would make human social bondage more strong.


Each one of us know that bees visit flowers, collect nectar and manufacture honey. They live in huge combs hanging at places where they usually remain undisturbed from other animal species. Astonishing, everyone is not aware about rest of thousands of species of bees those are not involved with the production of honey and wax. They are commonly referred as non-Apis  bees. Most of them are solitary, i.e. at the most one pair involves in the process of its nest architecture, collect pollen-nectar and take care of their immatures. A few species are semi social or eusocial too but their number are rare.


All bees are categorized under Phylum Arthropoda, Class Insecta, Order Hymenoptera and Super family Apoidea. At present they are grouped under seven families. Stenotritidae, Colletidae, Andrenidae, Halictidae, Melittidae, Megachilidae and Apidae. Honey bees are grouped under tribe Apini incoming Family Apidae under genus Apis Linnaeus, distributed world over with 11 species. Melittologists world over have estimated that around 28,500 species of bees have been described since the era of Linnaeus (1758). Taxonomically, this number is reduced to around 16,350 after making judgments with regard to synonymies. Thousands of species are yet to be studied in this regard. The number of present day genera has been apprehended to 425.


No doubt species of Genus Apis have always been and shall always remain in the category of topmost curious species group because human race is deeply involved with their artificial domestication and management for the sake of honey and wax, all over the World. However, thousands of other species of bees are yet to be explored in terms of several aspects of their utility. Non-Apis bees have been discovered for their vigorous and quite fast seed set rate through the valued pollination of thousands of crops that are of food, fodder, medicine, fibre, vegetable, fruit, pulse and seed value etc. When a comparison between them and the honey bees was made, strange results revealed that the credit for the pollination of thousands of angiospermic species, by mistake given to honey bees, factually goes to non-honey bee species. Most of them perform this beneficial act so quickly that it remains almost invisible to a normal eye.  So far, use of many non-Apis species has opened a new era for mankind where seed outputs of many cultivated and wild crops have increased to two to five times. The story of artificial domestication of Megachile rotundata and Osmia cornuta is not hidden from anyone. It has increased the output of Alfalfa and some fruit crops respectively, up to four-five times in Europe, Japan and North America.


Hundreds of chemicals those are used as an integral part of nest architecture, secreted by different non-Apis bee species, would be useful in many ways. Among them perfect waterproof materials secreted by dufours glands located in abdomen of most of the bee species, may be of one significance and the sticky mandibular secretion would be of another. The aspect should attract more intensive investigations in near future.




The Catalogue




A Catalogue for any flora and fauna group provides a bird's eye view about the investigations made and the results known. Catalogues for bee species for the various regions of the World are rarely known so far. A Catalogue of Hymenoptera of the World by Smith (1853 & 1854) [for those species that are preserved at British Museum] followed by the Catalogue of Hymenoptera by Dalla Torre (1896) were the initial attempts. The catalogue of Hymenoptera in America north of Mexico (updated in 1979) is another such effort. Separate region wise revesionary works for the bees of Australian, South-American and European regions have been published during second half of the previous century.


The pioneer series "Fauna of British India" with different volumes published by different authors at the end of nineteenth century and beginning of twentieth century provided a good revesionary view for different insect and other animal groups. Bingham (1897) made it partially for the Aculeata (Hymenoptera) including 288 species of bees under 30 genera. However, after a century their updating becomes a necessary step to be undertaken.  The Geographical limits of countries have changed. The eco-climatic parameters have undergone a drastic change and thousands of new taxa have been described. Simultaneously, numerous new locations for previously described species are explored and, the taxonomic revision of hundreds of species have been made. Precisely, an urgent need was felt that a catalogue of bee species for the Indian region should be presented for an overview of the fauna described so far along with their correlated aspects.


The present work includes a taxonomic cataloguing of 1289 species under 93 genera [plus one genus yet to be named] known so far from the region [a few of the genera are sensu lato, as specified]. It is further fortified with the reference/s available for the species known from our specified territory. The large scale intermediate synonymisations at different taxonomic levels have not been discussed here but the presentation is more or less limited to the finally accepted versions.



Geographical Territory



I should best mention here that the titled "Indian region" does not geographically limits the region that persisted during the British regime or until the second half of the previous century but the region basically considered here includes almost all countries known in the Oriental Zoogeographical realm. However, the title says so because bee species included in this work in major, have been described from the "Indian Region" [Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangla Desh, Bhutan and Myanmar] i.e. SAARC countries with Myanmar. Those bee species are included here with a little restriction which were described from beyond this limit. The restricted inclusion is for the bee species which are exclusively known from the "flexible zone" i.e. present day Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and up to Turkey towards west to India and, southern China, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, mainland of Malaysia and up to Singapore in the east to India. At present the inclusion of bee species from the specified "flexible region" is not completely referred in this work. However, in future It will be gradually updated.


The inclusion of some of the bee species recorded from the "flexible territories" in this work is primarily due to overlapping of distribution of several species found in the specified "Indian Region" with its both eastern and western territorial neighbours. Of-course bees over-rule the human territorial attitude and their distribution and movements are primarily based upon the availability of food source i.e. the specific flowerings they visit and, the ecological parameters of a zone. In spite, some species are so extensively distributed that one may find them up to Egypt and south of Europe in the west and up to Malaysia in the east. Megachile lanata is a good example in this regard that has over crossed oceans and has reached up to USA.




World Taxonomic Profile


The taxonomy of bees as that of any other fauna, keeps on updating based upon character grids, evolution of phylogeny and, interpretations and judgments made by individual Melittologists. However, based upon type specimens, a species is such an object that never changes its parameters of identification although it might have named more than once by different workers and, it would have been taxonomically revised from one taxonomic category to another viz. subgenus, genus, tribe or so on. The chapter of World Taxonomic Profile added to this work may be an asset to the bee workers of the World. The overall systematic review made, has been presented here so that bee species occurring in our region may be suitably accommodated within the world taxonomic profile. With a sincere acknowledgement to the pioneer authority, I have adopted this chapter with due permission from Dr. Charles D. Michener (2000) [University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS], but with a few amendments at species level. To restrict the volume of this e-book, synonymies for the subgenera have been omitted and the finally accepted versions have been mentioned. It is primarily due to the fact that in spite of omissions of subgenus the status of a species does not get disturbed. The subgeneric status for a species is the least significant matter and more often a species is mentioned merely by its binomial nomenclature (name of genus and species) instead of the inclusion of its subgenus in the middle. However, the number of species for and more refined distribution records for, different subgenera and genera are incorporated in this e-book. It will be of immense use to all the Melittologists.


Majority of the bee species of our region are yet to be taxonomically revised therefore, some of the generic names used in this catalogue are infect sensu lato. The references at different taxonomic level are more or less confined to the author and its year of publication. Whenever, more than one publication of similar nature in same journal, volume and page numbers, have been published by one author in a single specified year then alphabetical abbreviated form of journal/publication, volume number (bold) and pages have been mentioned to make difference between more than one reference. To find a detailed reference this is hereby suggested that one should go to the bottom box [placed on all pages], should click the hyperlink for the 'Bibliography of the Bees of the World' by the same author. Then go to the alphabetical author index and download the desired whole list/reference.



I am sure that this presentation with "complete knowledge" for the bee species for the area will provide what is fundamentally needed by bee biologists all over the World enabling them make further investigations on the bee species of the specified region.



This e-book is quite intensive in the sense that one may need to click a total of 2527 hyperlinks (263 external hyperlinks) to open 178 visible files to download full catalogue. Bordered hyperlinks are placed only at the bottom of each page. WebPages lack hyperlinked top borders so as to restrict the number of  hyperlinks  [or  basically to limit the volume of website]. WebPages such as those for separate genus cannot be interlinked in a series since the pages are separately made for each genus. Or else one will have to return to bottom border to click Genera to open next genus. Or one may switch over to a linked genus through various families or/and tribes in the "taxonomic profile"/family-subfamily-tribe networking (genera known from the area and detailed in this work). The website is further fortified with a page "Links", so that one may directly switchover to other useful websites on bees.


I am grateful to the authorities of the Web server http://www.Geocities.Com who have provided me a huge free web space for this exhaustive presentation on bees until 26 November 2009.


This is an advantage with a publication on internet that amendments can be made even after the appearance. I shall welcome the inclusions from the Melittologists of the World that should be incorporated in this e-book. 



Please Note:


A. Floral records of the bee species known so far and references on nestings and immatures whatever have appeared are included with regard to our destined species. More particularly recent works of Dr. D. B. Baker, Dr. S. F. Sakagami, Dr. P. D. Hurd & Dr. J. S. Moure and, Late Dr. K. Warncke is still pending to be included in this catalogue.


B. A complete taxonomic profile [some subgenera] will not open, uploading of these files is still pending.  


Preface for the 2010 issue


   Due to closer of webserver on 26th November 2009 the World Bee Bibliography and this catalogue has been redesigned and uploaded to www.BeesInd.Com on 08 February 2010. This is my own web server and as earlier will be available to all without any cost. Shortly, it will be revised according to the recent most taxonomic framework for the area. During the process several taxonomic additions have occurred and hundreds of newer localities have been added to the original work published in this catalogue in year 2003. I have tried to include all the available records of such revisions / updates in the present additions. Such web pages have been marked so [It will take another couple of months for the updates to be uploaded].




Dr. Rajiv K. Gupta

Associate Professor & Ex. Head

Department of Zoology

Jai Narain Vyas University

Jodhpur 342 005,


Ph. +91 291 272 6666

M.  +91 946010  6666



Visit "An Updating Bibliography of the Bees of the World" by the same author for the authors' linked references mentioned in this document.



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Inaugural release 26 Sept., 2003 revised and continued up to 26 Nov. 2009 on URL: .  Redesigned and released on URL: on 08 February 2010

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