That's not a turkey!?
Nope, but it's an Asiatic Enigma Bee collected in Turkey. It is one of 9 species of Enigma Bees that occur from the Western portion of the Mediterranean to Central Asia.
Enigma bees are rare in collections, so there is much to be discovered within this group. Unlike the female pictured here, the males of this group have prominent white markings on their faces.
They are called Enigma bees because it has been so difficult to decide which other bees they are closely related to. The reason for this confusion lies in their tongues. Bees are classified into long- and short-tongued varieties. Frustratingly, this distinction does not always refer to the length of the tongue but to the details of the structure of the mouth parts.
Short-tongued bees have a small segmented structure that lies alongside the actual tongue, long-tongued bees have this structure much elongated seemingly sheathing the real tongue. The actual tongue in long-tongued bees has a stiff rod running along its length, presumably to strengthen it. Short-tongued bees lack this reinforcement.
The problem with Enigma bees is that they are related to long-tongued bees but have lost the long-tongue characteristics - no sheath, no rod. What's the reason they have reverted to an earlier version of bee mouthparts? They visit tiny, open flowers of the parsley family, which need no deep probing.
So there's some Turkey bee trivia on Turkey Day!
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