Location: Fruit and Vegetable Insect Research
Title: Nest marking behavior and chemical composition of olfactory cues involved in nest recognition in Megachile rotundata Authors
Submitted to: Environmental Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 7, 2013
Publication Date: August 1, 2013
Citation: Guedot, C.N., Buckner, J.S., Hagen, M.M., Bosch, J., Kemp, W.P., Pitts Singer, T. 2013. Nest marking behavior and chemical composition of olfactory cues involved in nest recognition in Megachile rotundata. Environmental Entomology. 42(4):779-789. Interpretive Summary: The alfalfa leafcutting bee is an economically important pollinator of seed alfalfa throughout western North America whose management could benefit from a better understanding of its nesting behavior. Scientists at the USDA-ARS in collaboration with Utah State University scientists studied how alfalfa leafcutting bees locate their nest in artificial bee boards. They found that nesting bees use odors to recognize their individual nests, providing a better understanding of how females find their nest among similar cavities in large nesting boards. This information could have important commercial implications for producing an aggregation pheromone that can be used to help bees nest in sanitized bee boards.
Technical Abstract: The present study examines the use of olfactory cues for nest recognition by Megachile rotundata (Fabricius) (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae), an economically important pollinator of seed alfalfa throughout western North America. In-nest observations revealed that nesting females drag their abdomen along the entire nest on their way in and out of the nest, and sometimes deposit fluid droplets from the tip of the abdomen. The removal of nest markings by manipulations of the nesting cavities resulted in hesitation and searching behavior by females, clearly indicating the loss of some olfactory cue used for nest recognition. Chemical analysis of the depositions inside the nesting tube, as well as analysis of the cuticular lipids of the nesting bees, revealed the presence of free fatty acids, hydrocarbons, and wax esters.