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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Logan, Utah » Pollinating Insect-Biology, Management, Systematics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #335585

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

item Cane, James

Submitted to: Arthropod-Plant Interactions
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/16/2016
Publication Date: 11/28/2016
Citation: Cane, J.H. 2016. Specialist bees collect Asteraceae pollen by distinctive abdominal drumming (Osmia) or brushing (Melissodes, Svastra). Arthropod-Plant Interactions. 11:257-261.

Interpretive Summary: Several close relatives of the blue orchard bee were found to use a novel pollen collection behavior when working a diversity of flowers in the sunflower family on which their species specialize. They rapidly drum their abdomen against the flowers, thereby picking pollen up directly into their pollen transport hairs. The action also assures thorough pollination. Two unrelated sunflower specialists use a similar patting behavior, but then transfer the pollen to their hind legs. Earlier studies show them to be the most effective sunflower pollinators. Bee foraging behavior and morphology are shown to underlie their pollination value for sunflowers and related species.

Technical Abstract: Four species of western US Osmia (Cephalosmia) bees that are Asteraceae specialists (oligoleges) were observed to employ a heretofore unappreciated, stereotypical means of collecting pollen, abdominal drumming, to gather pollen from 19 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 their legs to harvest pollen. A different pollen harvesting behavior, abdominal brushing, is described for two eucerine bees (Melissodes apicalis and Svastra obliqua), both oligolectic for the Asteraceae. The behavior also involves a dorso-ventral motion but involves patting their distal abdomen against disk flowers at a much slower tempo (304 brushes/min ). These sternites have distinctly dense and long hair brushes for acquiring pollen.