Original article


, Volume 44, Issue 5, pp 501-510

First online:

The potential of cleptoparasitic bees as indicator taxa for assessing bee communities

  • Cory S. SheffieldAffiliated withRoyal Saskatchewan Museum Email author 
  • , Alana PindarAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, York University
  • , Laurence PackerAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, York University
  • , Peter G. KevanAffiliated withSchool of Environmental Biology

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Many factors affect bee diversity and abundance, and knowledge of these is crucial for maintaining healthy bee communities. However, there are few means to fully evaluate the status of bee communities; most are based on monitoring species richness and abundance and do not consider the diverse life histories of bees. We propose that functional diversity of bee communities offers a more consistent means of evaluation and suggest that cleptoparasitic bees in particular show much promise as indicator taxa. Cleptoparasitic bees play a stabilising role within bee communities. They represent the apex of bee communities and are the first guild to respond to disturbances, are easily distinguished as such and are diverse enough to be representative of entire bee communities. The diversity and abundance of cleptoparasites in relation to all bees is indicative of the status of the total bee community, and monitoring them should form an integral part of assessing bee communities.


pollinator communities guild structure cleptoparasites indicator taxa ecosystem health