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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Cane, James - Jim
item Sipes, Sedonia

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/24/2004
Publication Date: 1/1/2006
Citation: Cane, J.H., Sipes, S. 2006. Floral specialization by bees: analytical methods and a revised lexicon for oligolecty. In NM Waser and J. Ollerton, editors. Plant-pollinator interactions: from specialization to generalization. Univ. Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA. p.99-122.

Interpretive Summary: Bee species vary widely in the degree to which they specialize on floral hosts. Some bee species are restricted to a single genus of flowering plant for all of their pollen needs. Other bees, such as the honeybee, utilize thousands of species of flowering plants in their diet. The current simple classification of such specialization dates back to 1920, and a today inadequate to concisely yet efficiently represent the spectrum of floral host specialization in bees. We develop a new lexicon, and standardize methodologies for characterizing the pollen diets of bees. A good classification will help guide intelligent selections of native bee species to solve agricultural pollination problems.

Technical Abstract: Taxonomic pollen specialization by bees has been recognizing the 1920s, but the spectrum of bees¿ host breadths has been fit to a binary classification of oligolecty and polylecty. We propose an expanded yet efficient classification for pollen host breadth that includes monolecty, narrow oligolecty, eclectic oligolecty, oligolecty, mesolecty, polylecty and broad polylecty. We review and critique the kinds of evidence used to support claims of specialization (floral visitation records, pollen loads of bees, pollen in provisions and bee diets) to help standardize and guide best analytical practices. The revised lexicon should reveal new syndromes that had been previously obscured or lumped under the old terminology.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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