Specialist bees collect Asteraceae pollen by distinctive abdominal drumming (Osmia) or tapping (Melissodes, Svastra)

Abstract

Four species of western US Osmia (3 Cephalosmia) that are Asteraceae specialists (mesoleges) were observed using a stereotypical means of collecting pollen—abdominal drumming—to gather pollen from 21 flowering species representing nine tribes of Asteraceae. Abdominal drumming is a rapid dorso-ventral motion of the female’s abdomen (467 pats/min) used to directly collect and place pollen in the bee’s ventral scopa. A co-occurring generalist, O. lignaria, never drummed Asteraceae flowers for pollen, but instead used its legs to harvest pollen. Observed drumming by several other osmiines is noted. A different pollen-harvesting behavior, abdominal tapping, is described for two eucerine bees (Melissodes agilis and Svastra obliqua), both oligolectic for the Asteraceae. The behavior also involves a dorso-ventral motion, but they tap their distal abdominal venter against disk flowers at a slower tempo (304 taps/min). These females’ distal sternites have distinctly dense and long hair brushes for acquiring pollen by this behavior. Brief accounts of similar abdominal pollen gathering behaviors by other megachilids are summarized.

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Acknowledgements

I thank Byron Love for assistance in the greenhouse and the field, particularly with plant propagation, plus several observations of drumming. Andreas Müller was an invaluable guide to the European literature, and with John Neff, provided insightful reviews. These behaviors were discussed with Zach Portman, who is reviewing pollen-handling behaviors of bees. Marianne Harris kindly helped nurture greenhouse seedlings. I am forever grateful to Charles Michener, who set my path and opened doors in the field of melittology while serving as a gentle yet inspirational role model to generations of young bee biologists like me.

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Correspondence to James H. Cane.

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Handling Editor: Isabel Alves dos Santos.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Movie clip of paint-marked O. montana drumming flowers of H. annuus. Recorded in the greenhouse in real time (MP4 1358 kb)

Movie clip of O. montana working flowers of C. montana for pollen. Recorded outdoors in slow motion (1/8 speed) (MP4 10237 kb)

Movie 3. Movie clip of M. agilis tapping disk flowers of H. annuus for pollen. Recorded outdoors in real time (MP4 3280 kb)

Movie 4. Movie clip of S. obliqua tapping disk flowers of E. angustifolia for pollen. Recorded outdoors in slow motion (1/8 speed) (MP4 5641 kb)

Movie 1

Movie clip of paint-marked O. montana drumming flowers of H. annuus. Recorded in the greenhouse in real time (MP4 1358 kb)

Movie 2

Movie clip of O. montana working flowers of C. montana for pollen. Recorded outdoors in slow motion (1/8 speed) (MP4 10237 kb)

Movie 3

Movie 3. Movie clip of M. agilis tapping disk flowers of H. annuus for pollen. Recorded outdoors in real time (MP4 3280 kb)

Movie 4

Movie 4. Movie clip of S. obliqua tapping disk flowers of E. angustifolia for pollen. Recorded outdoors in slow motion (1/8 speed) (MP4 5641 kb)

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Cane, J.H. Specialist bees collect Asteraceae pollen by distinctive abdominal drumming (Osmia) or tapping (Melissodes, Svastra). Arthropod-Plant Interactions 11, 257–261 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11829-016-9482-4

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Keywords

  • Bees
  • Apiformes
  • Megachilidae
  • Foraging
  • Grooming