- We studied the pollination of a Missouri wildflower in Spring and were surprised to find that more than 50% of the bees collected were males. The males belonged to unrelated species in different families. I have never seen such male bee diversity on a temperate spring wildflower before and winter if anyone made similar collections on other plant species? If so, which plant species appeared to attract the greatest number of males?I had a similar experience once on a wildflower reserve in eastern Oregon in June. A native strawberry (Fragaria) was "bombarded" by males of a single species of a rare andrenid that picked that week to emerge.Peter Bernhardt
Peter and others- there are generally more male than female bees produced by every non-social bee species, and seasonal pulses of males among the primitively social species (like Bombus and Halictus). We have shown that male squash bees are important pollinators of Cucurbita, perhaps more so than females because they visit flowers all during the early morning hunting for females. Their’s is probably an exceptional case, certainly for agriculture. Males of the alkali bee are adept alfalfa pollinators (ditto alfalfa leaf cutting bee males) but, since they are not provisioning a nest and don’t land much, they only visit flowers to sup nectar as needed, so their visitation frequency is way less than the female’s, and that is the general case for male bees, I believe, but the exceptions will prove interesting. I can post reprints if that is wanted.
Right now at my home, male Halictus abound at flowers of fernbush (Chamaebatyaria [sp?]), a flower very like the wild strawberry you mention.
James H. Cane
USDA-ARS Pollinating Insect Research Unit
Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322 USA
tel: 435-797-3879 FAX: 435-797-0461
web page: www.ars.usda.gov/npa/beelab
Gardening for Bees: http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/factsheet/plants-pollinators09.pdf
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