I was pushing some small hardwood brush piles in Southwest Ga. and found what I believe to be small aggregation(<25 bees) of Habropoda that was in the sandy soil underneath. I thought it was a fluke. However, a couple of weeks later I found another under exactly the same conditions several hundred yards away. Does anyone know of anything in the literature that would substantiate this? I am trying to start a commercial blueberry u-pick operation so it could be important. It could also be important as to how we treat brush piles.
University of Florida
Charlie- the only published research on the nesting biology of Habropoda laboriosa is:
Cane, J. H. 1994. Nesting biology and mating behavior of the Southeastern blueberry bee, Habropoda laboriosa (Hymenoptera: Apoidea). J. Kansas Entomol. Soc. 67:236-241.
I found 4-5 aggregations in my time, not enough for firm conclusions about nesting preferences within sandy habitats. Most were in forested places, the bees slipping under the leaf litter, their soil tumuli therefore hidden from view. On a small blueberry farm, however, I found them nesting some in the rows and in the walls of planting holes. The bees seemed very visual and inflexible in nest orientation. Add or move a landmark during the spring nesting season, and females were baffled and ultimately gave up trying to find their nest. Outside of the nesting season, of course, visual cues can be altered without harm. I encourage folks to consider the pollination value of the bee (est. $20 in blueberries per female a decade ago) when thinking about altering their nearby nesting habitat.
James H. Cane
USDA-ARS Bee Biology and Systematics Lab
Utah State University , Logan , UT 84322 USA
tel: 435-797-3879 FAX: 435-797-0461
web page: www.ars.usda.gov/npa/beelab