Common name: Masked bee
Order: Hymenoptera Family: Colletidae
Hylaeus agilis visit a wide range of native and exotic flowers and, in some places, they play a particularly important role in pollinating New Zealand mistletoe (Peraxilla tetrapetala). The flowers of these plants have to be forced open and this is usually done by honey-eater birds such as bellbirds and tui. Unfortunately, in some places these birds aren’t very common so it’s been up to H. agilis and some Leioproctus species to pop open the flowers themselves. Given that they’re a lot smaller than the flowers this takes a lot of effort for the bees but the flowers which they pollinate go on to produce a larger fruit set.
These bees are solitary and make nests in twigs and beetle holes in trees.
Early, J. ‘Wasps and bees’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/wasps-and-bees/sources (accessed 1 December 2016)
Robertson, A.W., Ladley, J.J., & Kelly, D. (2005). The effectiveness of short-tongued bees as pollinatorsof apparently “ornithophilous” New Zealand mistletoes. Austral Ecology 30: 298-309