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Plastic nesting behavior of Centris (Centris) flavifrons (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Centridini) in an urban area

Martins, Celso F., Peixoto, Marcella P., Aguiar, Cândida M. L.
Apidologie 2014 v.45 no.2 pp. 156-171
Apidae, Centris flavifrons, brood cells, dry season, females, gardens, indigenous species, nesting, parasites, parasitism, pollination, solitary bees, tropics, urban areas, vegetation
Centris flavifrons is a ground-nesting solitary bee species that has an important role in crop and native plant species pollination in the Neotropical region. However, the nesting biology and ecology of this species are little understood. We studied the nesting biology of C. flavifrons by observing 287 nests in an urban garden. Females built nests only during the dry season from September to March and exhibit notable flexibility in the amount of time each nest is active and the number of brood cells produced as a consequence. Nests were established on horizontal, sunny, sandy surfaces without vegetation. Our nest excavations revealed a main tunnel with lateral branches and an average of five cells per nest (range, 1–12 cells). The duration of a nest from digging to closure was on average 6.9 days (range of 2–19 days, n = 141) with 69 % of nests active for 2–7 days. Mesoplia regalis was observed entering the nests and emerged from the cells of C. flavifrons, but the parasitism rate was low. The implications of this flexibility in nest activity duration and brood cell number and the low pressure from parasites are discussed.