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Distribution

provided by Catalog of Hymenoptera in America North of Mexico
N.S. south to Ga., west to N. Dak., S. Dak., Nebr., Kans., Okla., and Tex. (N.S., Ont., Que., Ala., Ark., Conn., Del., D.C., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Nebr., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., N. Dak., Ohio, Okla., Pa., R.I., S.C., S. Dak., Tenn., Vt., Va., W. Va., and Wis.).
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bibliographic citation
Catalog of Hymenoptera in America North of Mexico. 1979. Prepared cooperatively by specialists on the various groups of Hymenoptera under the direction of Karl V. Krombein and Paul D. Hurd, Jr., Smithsonian Institution, and David R. Smith and B. D. Burks, Systematic Entomology Laboratory, Insect Identification and Beneficial Insect Introduction Institute. Science and Education Administration, United States Department of Agriculture.

General Ecology

provided by Catalog of Hymenoptera in America North of Mexico
Nests in a wide variety of preexisting borings, burrows, trap-nests, cavities, crevices, and mud nests of wasps as well as attaching their cells in clusters on exposed surfaces; uses mud for nest construction.
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bibliographic citation
Catalog of Hymenoptera in America North of Mexico. 1979. Prepared cooperatively by specialists on the various groups of Hymenoptera under the direction of Karl V. Krombein and Paul D. Hurd, Jr., Smithsonian Institution, and David R. Smith and B. D. Burks, Systematic Entomology Laboratory, Insect Identification and Beneficial Insect Introduction Institute. Science and Education Administration, United States Department of Agriculture.

Brief Summary

provided by EOL authors
The blue orchard bee (Osmia lignaria), also known as the orchard mason bee, mason bee, orchard bee, and Osmia bee, is named for its shiny blue coloration and the fact that it pollinates orchard crops. These bees are native to North America and are found throughout most of the United States. However, this bee is not established in the deep south and is rare in the Great Plains. The blue orchard bee is slightly smaller than a honey bee; males are approximately 11 to 12 mm and females are approximately 14 mm in length. They are a shiny dark blue color. Males have longer antennae and an additional tuft of light colored hair on their faces than females. Females have hairs on the underside of their abdomens adapted for carrying pollen.
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Life Cycle

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The blue orchard bee is a solitary nester, but it is gregarious so prefers to nest in groups. Males emerge in the spring and females emerge several days later, living for about a month. Females mate soon after emerging and begin nesting within three to four days, creating nests in existing holes in wood. The female places a mud plug at the bottom of the nest and then she brings pollen and nectar into the nest. An egg is laid and the cell is sealed with a thin mud plug. The female continues building the nest in this way and then seals it with a thick mud plug. Larvae hatch from the eggs after a few days. The larvae then spin cocoons and pupate within the cells. Pupae turn into adults at the end of the summer but remain in the cocoons throughout the winter.
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Habitat

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This species is found in wooded areas and forest edges, but also around homes in towns and cities. Females create nest sites in existing holes in wood.
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Pollinator

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Blue orchard bees are good pollinators of early spring orchard crops and are used commercially. These bees pollinate crops such as apple (Malus domestica), cherry (Prunus spp.), raspberry (Rubus spp.), peach (Prunus persica), cranberry (Vaccinium spp.), strawberry (Fragaria spp.), radish (Raphanus sativus), and sage (Salvia spp.). They also pollinate wildflowers like waterleaf ( Hydrophyllum spp.) and fiddleneck (Amsinckia spp.). Blue orchard bees are good commercial pollinators of orchard crops for several reasons. These bees are relatively easy to handle because they are non-aggressive. They are easy to manage and are self-sustaining with little maintenance; population size can increase by about 2 1/2 times per year. Blue orchard bees are also efficient pollinators because they land directly upon the reproductive structures of blossoms. A female blue orchard bee's abdomen is covered in hairs and these hairs pick up pollen. When the bee moves to the next flower to forage, it inadvertently transfers the pollen to the new blossom's reproductive structures. Also, blue orchard bees are highly active, even under poor weather conditions, and are fast flyers with a high bloom visitation rate. Finally, far fewer blue orchard bees than honey bees (Apis mellifera) are needed to provide pollination services - depending on the crop, about 250-300 nesting blue orchard bee females per acre are required whereas one strong hive, between 25,000 and 30,000, of honey bees per acre are required.
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Osmia lignaria

provided by wikipedia EN

Osmia lignaria, commonly known as the orchard mason bee or blue orchard bee,[1] is a megachilid bee that makes nests in reeds and natural holes, creating individual cells for its brood that are separated by mud dividers. Unlike carpenter bees, it cannot drill holes in wood. O. lignaria is a common species used for early spring fruit bloom in Canada and the United States, though a number of other Osmia species are cultured for use in pollination.

Native origin

O. lignaria is among 4000 native bee species of North America, and its species is divided by the Rocky Mountains into two subspecies, O. l. propinqua (western subspecies) and O. l. lignaria (eastern subspecies). The majority of research has been conducted in western orchards on the western subspecies. Efforts at establishing them outside their native range have met with mixed results. Researchers in one eastern study (Virginia / North Carolina) using the eastern O. l. lignaria found them to prefer the native Redbud over the orchard fruits.[2] They do not overwinter in Florida and the Gulf Coast because of the lack of cold winter temperatures needed in its development cycle.[3] In the almond industry, where bloom time is early, the bee is raised under artificial conditions that trick it into emerging several weeks early, coincident with the almond bloom. While in much of the northwest conditions make it is easy to propagate O. l. propinqua, orchards are not always able to establish a self sustaining population and often require importation of additional bees; on this research is continuing. In general, it is recommended that propagation and subsequent transport be confined to the bee's natural boundaries; commercial enterprise does not always respect these boundaries.[4]

Lifecycle

Spring

The bees begin to emerge from their cocoons in the spring when the daytime temperature reaches 14 °C (57 °F).[5] The males emerge first. They remain near the nesting site and wait for the females to emerge, which can be several days to weeks depending on the number of days of warm weather. The first thing the females do is mate. A female typically mates once, or maybe twice. She is absent from the nesting site for several days while she feeds and waits for her ovaries to fully mature.

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"Bee house" used for O. lignaria
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Orchard mason bee on an apple bloom
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Example of nesting-site variations

When a female is ready, she seeks out a suitable nest. O. lignaria females nest in narrow holes or tubes, though they have been found to nest inside cedar shakes and even keyholes. Beekeepers place prepared nesting materials to entice the females to stay close to the orchard or nearby forage. Good nesting material (reeds, paper tubes, wood trays, or "bee condos") are as important as having the proper mud available (silty/clayey, as well as correct moisture content to grab/pack the mud). A female might inspect several potential nests before settling in. Once she has found a preferred nesting cavity, she flies outside of the hole and does an in-flight dance. She is orienting on major visual features to find her nest when she returns from foraging.

Orchard mason bees arrange their nests as a series of partitions, with one egg per partition. A female begins the process by collecting mud and building the back wall, if necessary, of the first partition. She then makes several back-and-forth trips to nearby flowers. Unlike honey bees, which visit flowers that are miles away, females visit flowers nearest the nest. One bee can visit 75 flowers per trip, and it takes 25 trips to create a complete pollen/nectar provision. The female works tirelessly during the day, only stopping once the sun has gone down. When the sun rises the next morning, she basks in its rays until warm enough to fly, then continues foraging.

Once the pollen provision is large enough, she backs into the hole and lays an egg directly upon it. She then collects more mud to seal off the partition. The new wall also doubles as the back wall of the next cell, and she continues until she has filled the nest hole with a series of offspring. O. lignara bees, like many insects, can select the gender of the egg they lay by fertilizing the egg, or not. Unfertilized eggs are males, while fertilized eggs are females. The adult bee lays female eggs in the back of the burrow, and the male eggs towards the front. On average, she lays about three males and one to two females per cavity. Because females are larger than males and require more pollen reserves, cavity dimensions can play a significant role in the cavity selection process.

When the egg hatches, the larva consumes the food provision and goes through many changes before becoming an adult. It will spend most of its life alone in this dark cell made by its mother.

Once the female has finished the nest, she plugs the entrance with a mud wall, thicker than the partitions that precede it. She then seeks another location for a new nest. She works tirelessly until she dies. An O. lignaria female lives for about four to eight weeks, and can fill an average of four six-inch tubes in her lifetime, with about eight eggs per tube. Her work includes nearly 60,000 blossom visits, and has attracted growers to propagate the insect for pollination purposes in fruit orchards.

Summer

By early summer, a larva has consumed all of its provisions and begins spinning a cocoon around itself and enters the pupal stage; the adult, flying mother dies off as the season progresses.

Fall and winter

The young bee is now a fully developed insect and undergoes diapause inside its cocoon for the duration of the winter. To stay warm, it burns through its fat reserves. If the weather stays cold for too long, the bee can die of starvation. Alternatively, if the temperature rises too fast, emergence may occur prematurely when pollen is scarce or the weather can return to cold temperatures for too long. Farmers are known to exploit the emergence cycle and time their release to coincide with the first orchard blossoms.

Defense

Orchard mason bees, like all mason bees, are very shy and only sting if they perceive serious danger. They do not attack to defend themselves. The stinger is actually an egg guide. Because of their docile behavior, mason bees are preferred by people who desire pollination in urban settings.

Parasites

Mason bees host a number of different parasites. The kleptoparasitic pollen mite Chaetodactylus krombeini is found especially in wetter parts of its range; it can starve the Osmia larvae by consuming the larval pollen mass. Sapygid wasps, genus Sapyga, are also kleptoparasites, with the larvae feeding on the pollen. Stelis montana is a cuckoo bee that sometimes invades nests. Both Stelis and Sapyga larvae spin a cocoon and develop in the Osmia nest.[4]

Several parasitic wasps attack mason bees by piercing the larva in the nest and inserting eggs into the body; the wasp larvae consume the bee larva/pupa. This includes several chalcidoid wasps — tiny (2mm - 4mm) Monodontomerus species, Melittobia chalybii, and the largish yellow and black Leucospis affinis. Monodontomerus can be a serious pest of O. lignaria, but Leucospis is less common and Melittobia is more likely to parasitize other later emerging Osmia. Several species of cuckoo wasps, relatively large and metallic green, also consume Osmia larva, but these wasps develop next to the juvenile bee and consumes the larva from the outside.[4]

The cavity nest of the mason bee can host Ptinus sexpunctatus, the six-spotted spider beetle, which feeds on other dead or decaying insects.[6] It was discovered in North America in 2004, where it was accidentally introduced alongside Osmia species used for research as pollinators.[7]

See also

References

  1. ^ Black, Scott Hoffman; Shepherd, Matthew; Vaughan, Mace; LaBar, Caitlin; Hodges, Nathan (November 2009), Yolo Natural Heritage Program (HCP/NCCP): Pollinator Conservation Strategy (PDF), Portland, OR / Sacramento, CA: The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, retrieved March 24, 2011
  2. ^ Kraemer, M. E.; Favi, F. D.; Niedziela, C. E. (2014). "Nesting and Pollen Preference of Osmia lignaria lignaria(Hymenoptera: Megachilidae) in Virginia and North Carolina Orchards". Environmental Entomology. 43 (4): 932–41. doi:10.1603/EN13219. PMID 24865141. S2CID 7211839.
  3. ^ http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/Creatures/MISC/BEES/blue_orchard_bee.htm Featured Creatures: Blue Orchard Bee
  4. ^ a b c How to Manage the Blue Orchard Bee (PDF). 2001.
  5. ^ Dogterom, Margeriet (2002). Pollination with Mason Bees. Beediverse Books. ISBN 978-0-9689357-0-5.
  6. ^ Majka, C. (2004). "Ptinus sexpunctatus Panzer". Retrieved 2015-08-10.
  7. ^ Majka, Christopher G.; Philips, T. Keith; Sheffield, Cory (2007). "Ptinus Sexpunctatus Panzer (Coleoptera: Anobiidae, Ptininae) Newly Recorded in North America". Entomological News. 118: 73–6. doi:10.3157/0013-872X(2007)118[73:PSPCAP]2.0.CO;2.
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Osmia lignaria: Brief Summary

provided by wikipedia EN

Osmia lignaria, commonly known as the orchard mason bee or blue orchard bee, is a megachilid bee that makes nests in reeds and natural holes, creating individual cells for its brood that are separated by mud dividers. Unlike carpenter bees, it cannot drill holes in wood. O. lignaria is a common species used for early spring fruit bloom in Canada and the United States, though a number of other Osmia species are cultured for use in pollination.

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