Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 139–147 | Cite as

Pollen specialization by solitary bees in an urban landscape



Many polylectic bee species are known to specialize locally on one or a few pollen types to increase foraging efficiency. What is relatively unknown is how different landscapes influence foraging decisions, and whether habitat alteration, such as that resulting from urbanization, influences broad-scale foraging activities of bees. This study evaluates the type and diversity of pollen collected by two solitary bees that are common in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the native Osmia pumila and the exotic O. caerulescens, sampled in trap nests set up in urban parks and gardens. We found that the dominant pollen in every successful brood cell was either of one widespread, cosmopolitan lawn-invasive plant species (Trifolium repens) or one of two wind-pollinated tree genera (Quercus spp. and Betula spp.). In combination, these three represented more than 90 % of all pollen collected by each bee species. Despite considerable overlap in the dominant pollen types collected by each bee species, the exotic O. caerulescens was significantly more specialized than the native O. pumila. Brood cells with Betula as the dominant pollen type were more pollen species-rich than those cells having Trifolium or Quercus as dominant, perhaps a result of the comparatively low protein content in Betula pollen.


Osmia Exotic species Trap nests Pollen nutritional content Wind pollination 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biology DepartmentYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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