Flower preferences of male, female bees


This 2015 video says about itself:

Carpenter bees (the genus Xylocopa in the subfamily Xylocopinae) are large bees distributed worldwide. Some 500 species of carpenter bees are in the 31 subgenera.

Their common name is because nearly all species build their nests in burrows in dead wood, bamboo, or structural timbers (except those in the subgenus Proxylocopa, which nest in the ground).

Carpenter bees are traditionally considered solitary bees, though some species have simple social nests in which mothers and daughters may cohabit. However, even solitary species tend to be gregarious, and often several nest near each other. When females cohabit, a division of labor between them occurs sometimes, where one female may spend most of her time as a guard within the nest, motionless and near the entrance, while another female spends most of her time foraging for provisions.

From Rutgers University in the USA:

With flower preferences, bees have a big gap between the sexes

Female and male bees of the same species frequent different flowers, study finds

April 24, 2019

For scores of wild bee species, females and males visit very different flowers for food — a discovery that could be important for conservation efforts, according to Rutgers-led research.

Indeed, the diets of female and male bees of the same species could be as different as the diets of different bee species, according to a study in the journal PLOS ONE.

“As we get a better sense of what makes flowers attractive to different kinds of bees, maybe we can get smarter about bee conservation,” said lead author Michael Roswell, a doctoral student in the lab of senior author Rachael Winfree, a professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

Five years ago, when Winfree Lab members were evaluating federally funded programs to create habitat for pollinators, Roswell noticed that some flowers were very popular with male bees and others with females. That spurred a study to test, for as many wild bee species as possible, whether males and females visit different kinds of flowers.

New Jersey is home to about 400 species of wild bees — not including Apis mellifera Linnaeus, the domesticated western honeybee whose males do not forage for food, Roswell noted.

The scientists collected 18,698 bees from 152 species in New Jersey. The bees visited 109 flower species in six semi-natural meadows with highly abundant and diverse flowers. The meadows were managed to promote mostly native flowers that attract pollinators.

Female bees build, maintain, collect food for and defend nests, while male bees primarily seek mates. Both sexes drink floral nectar for food, but only females collect pollen that serves as food for young bees, so they forage at greater rates than males.

From the flowers’ standpoint, both female and male bees are important pollinators — though female bees are more prolific because they spend more time foraging at flowers.

Before mating, the males of some species travel from the area where they were born. Targeting their preferences for flowers may help maintain genetically diverse bee populations, Roswell speculated.

“We see some intriguing patterns, where certain plant families seem relatively preferred or avoided by male bees, or where males have relatively less appetite for visiting flowers that only produce pollen and not nectar,” he said. “That could help pinpoint the right mix of flowers to improve bee conservation down the road.”

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