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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: 2003 Alfalfa Leafcutting Bee Health Survey

Author
item Pitts Singer, Theresa

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: January 19, 2004
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Although alfalfa leafcutting bees, Megachile rotundata Say, have been employed as specialist pollinators of alfalfa for around 40 years, there remain both old and new problems in their management and production. I present research designed to strengthen our understanding of the behavior of these bees in commercial settings. Three main areas of my research program are described here: a bee health survey, a study of the effects of bee densities, and a study of attraction to old nest materials. The survey will continue for several years and help pinpoint problems that can be addressed though scientific investigations. The bee density tests so far are showing detrimental effects of high bee densities on bee reproductive success. Tests for attraction to old nest materials (female cocoons, feces, leaf pieces, etc.) will be continued to increase sample sizes, but already the data appear to reveal attraction to certain materials more than others and differences between species.

Technical Abstract: Although alfalfa leafcutting bees, Megachile rotundata Say, have been employed as specialist pollinators of alfalfa for around 40 years, there remain both old and new problems in their management and production. I present research designed to strengthen our understanding of the behavior of these bees in commercial settings. Three main areas of my research program are described here: a bee health survey, a study of the effects of bee densities, and a study of attraction to old nest materials. The survey will continue for several years and help pinpoint problems that can be addressed though scientific investigations. The bee density tests so far are showing detrimental effects of high bee densities on bee reproductive success. Tests for attraction to old nest materials (female cocoons, feces, leaf pieces, etc.) will be continued to increase sample sizes, but already the data appear to reveal attraction to certain materials more than others and differences between species.

Last Modified: 7/23/2014