Posts Tagged: leafcutting bee
It's a native bee.
It's a pollinator.
And it's a leafcutter.
This morning we admired this female leafcutter bee, Megachile fidelis, as identified by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis.
It was foraging on a Mexican sunflower in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the half-acre pollinator garden located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
The Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundiflora), from the Asteracae or sunflower family, blazed like a fiery torch, its stamens screaming yellow and its petals ignited in a orange-red flame that only Mother Nature can create.
While the Tithonia glowed--no wonder it's a favorite of gardeners--the leafcutter bee kept piling on the pollen.
If you look at the second photo, you'll see "the brush of hairs on the underside of her abdomen where she is packing pollen for the trip back to her nest," as Thorp points out.
Indeed, the bee may be nesting in the haven itself. Thorp provides them with little bee condos, blocks of wood drilled with holes.
Within a few weeks, UC Davis graduate student/teaching assistant Sarah Dalrymple will finish installing art-decorated bee condos crafted in an entomology class linked with the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program.
Build them and they will come.
Female leafcutting bee, Megachile fidelis, foraging on a Mexican sunflower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Note "the brush of hairs on the underside of her abdomen where she is packing pollen for the trip back to her nest," says native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This female leafcutting bee, Megachile fidelis, is loaded with pollen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Sometimes you get lucky.
While watching floral visitors foraging last week in our rock purslane (Calandrinia grandiflora), we noticed a tiny black bee, something we'd never seen before.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the UC Davis Department of Entomology, identified it as a female leafcutting bee, Megachile gemula, "which has an all-black form."
It's a rather uncommon bee, but a distinctive bee, said Thorp, who is one of the instructors of The Bee Course, offered every year in the Southwestern Research Station, Portal, Ariz., for conservation biologists, pollination ecologists and other biologists who want to gain greater knowledge of the systematics and biology of bees. Participants come worldwide to learn about bees.
Megachile gemula is native to the United States. The females snip round holes in leaves and line their nests with the material. From egg to larva to pupa, a new generation emerges from the sealed nest.
Meanwhile, if you want to go on a walking tour with Thorp, mark your calendar for Friday, June 22. Thorp will lead a Tahoe National Forest Service tour of native plants and pollinators in the Loney Meadow, near Nevada City, Nevada County. The tour, free and open to the public, will take place from 10 a.m. to approximately 2 p.m.
The walk is provided as part of the Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region’s 2012 Pollinator Special Emphasis Area "which has been developed to call attention to the importance of butterflies and native bees in providing important services for food production and ecosystem health," said Kathy Van Zuuk, Yuba River Ranger District botanist and forest level non-native invasive plant coordinator.
And what bees might tour participants encounter? Probably bumble bees, mining bees, digger bees, leafcutting bees, mason bees and cuckoo bees, Thorp said. Other floral-visitors are expected to include flies, butterflies, and beetles, he said. Van Zuuk and fellow botanist Karen Wiese will identify the native plants.
Those interested should meet at 10 a.m. at the Sierra Discovery Trail parking lot located off Highway 20 to carpool to Loney Meadow (where parking is limited). Participants of all ages should bring water, snacks, insect repellent, sunscreen and wear suitable footwear. (No dogs, please.)
Further information is available by contacting Van Zuuk at (530) 478-6243 or emailing her at email@example.com.
Female leafcutting bee, Megachile gemula, on rock purslane. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Female leafcutting bee, Megachile gemula, exiting rock purslane. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)