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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Developmental Biology and Rearing Methods for Osmia Bees Used As Crop Pollinators

Authors
item Bosch Gras, Jordi
item KEMP, WILLIAM

Submitted to: Specialists' Meeting on Insect Pollination in Greenhouses
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: June 3, 2000
Publication Date: December 18, 2000
Citation: Bosch Gras, J., Kemp, W.P. 2000. Developmental biology and rearing methods for osmia bees used as crop pollinators. Specialists' Meeting on Insect Pollination in Greenhouses.

Interpretive Summary: Several solitary bees of the Osmia (Osmia) group, frequently referred to as mason bees because of their method of nest construction (species like O. cornifrons, O. cornuta, O. lignaria, O. ribifloris, O. rufa), have been studied and developed as crop pollinators. These species have shown enormous potential as orchard and blueberry pollinators and they share several biological traits that facilitate their management at the commercial scale. They all nest in pre-established cavities, readily accept artificial nesting materials, and the larvae spin thick multi- layered cocoons that provide protection during management. All of these species also share a common life cycle. They have one generation per year, fly early in the year, and spend the winter as adults inside cocoons. Females nest for about a month in late-winter or spring, and immatures develop throughout spring-summer. In late-summer or early-fall they reach adulthood and remain inside their cocoons as dormant adults that will emerge the following spring. Recent studies have investigated the developmental biology of O. cornuta in Spain and O. lignaria in the USA. These studies have established temperature requirements for the development and wintering of these species, and allowed us to improve prediction and manipulation of emergence periods. Flexibility in advancing or delaying emergence facilitates the use of these pollinators on a variety of crops flowering at different times of the year. Improved artificial control of mason bee development and emergence is essential for the pollination of crops whose blooming period is advanced under artificial heat conditions in greenhouse environments.

Technical Abstract: Several Osmia (Osmia) species, O. cornifrons, O. cornuta, O. lignaria, O. ribifloris, O. rufa, have been studied and developed as crop pollinators.These species share several biological traits that facilitate their management at the commercial scale. They all nest in pre-established cavities, readily accept artificial nesting materials, and the larvae spin thick multi-layered cocoons that provide protection during management. All of these species also share a common life cycle. They are univoltine, early-flying bees, that over-winter as adults. Females nest for about a month in late-winter or spring, and immatures develop throughout spring-summer. In late-summer or early-fall they reach adulthood and remain inside their cocoons as dormant adults that will emerge the following spring. Recent studies have investigated the respirometry and developmental biology of O. cornuta in Spain and O. lignaria in the USA. These studies have established temperature requirements for the development and wintering of these species, and allowed us to improve prediction and manipulation of emergence periods. The possibility of advancing or delaying emergence facilitates the use of these pollinators on a variety of crops flowering at different times of the year. Improved artificial control of Osmia development and emergence is potentially important for pollination of crops whose blooming period is advanced under artificial heat conditions in greenhouse environments.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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