Foraging and nesting behavior of the leaf-cutter bee Megachile rotundata (Fabricius) Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/pn89db049

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  • The study provides the details of the ethology of Megachile rotundata (Fabricius), and presents preliminary observations on its foraging and nesting behavior. Development from prepupae to adults proceeds most rapidly at 32 degrees C., and is retarded when held at lower and higher temperatures. Male behavior is distinct from that of the female. Mating, including the copulation process arid sleeping, are described. Requirements necessary for nesting are presented. These included: types of nesting places, natural and artificial; size range of tunnels; and the effects of competition on nesting. Females used leaf sections from a variety of plant species in construction of their cells. Description included desirable leaf characteristics, cutting procedures used to remove leaf sections from plants and return of bees to given leaf sources. The construction of the cell cup is detailed as to leaf placement, number of leaves used, cell dimensions, and arrangement of cells under various nesting conditions. After formation of the cell cup it is provisioned with pollen and nectar. Procedures of pollen collection, removal of pollen from the scopa, and the use of nectar for moistening the pollen mass were included as were descriptions of oviposition and cell capping. Upon completion of a cell series, the entrance to the tunnel was sealed, using leaf cuttings. All procedures of cell construction were influenced by the age of the bee and behavioral changes noted toward the end of the flight season. It was found that orientation to the nesting site is largely through visual association with gross characteristics of the area and that markers aided in orientation. Preliminary observations on color discrimination indicated that bees could distinguish between colors. Foraging studies were conducted in the presence and absence of alfalfa and included notes on flower preference and pollen collecting. Flight range studies indicated that bees forage plants closest to their nesting site and increase their range as close bloom is no longer available. Attempts made to relocate bees in new areas met with only limited success. Morning and evening behavior of bees were characterized and climatic conditions responsible for commencement and cessation of flight outlined.
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