The presence of a specialised dorsal rim area with an ability to detect the e-vector orientation of polarised light is shown for the first time in a nocturnal hymenopteran. The dorsal rim area of the halictid bee Megalopta genalis features a number of characteristic anatomical specialisations including an increased rhabdom diameter and a lack of primary screening pigments. Optically, these specialisations result in wide spatial receptive fields (Δρ = 14°), a common adaptation found in the dorsal rim areas of insects used to filter out interfering effects (i.e. clouds) from the sky. In this specialised eye region all nine photoreceptors contribute their microvilli to the entire length of the ommatidia. These orthogonally directed microvilli are anatomically arranged in an almost linear, anterior–posterior orientation. Intracellular recordings within the dorsal rim area show very high polarisation sensitivity and a sensitivity peak within the ultraviolet part of the spectrum.