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Nest architecture, life cycle, and natural enemies of the neotropical leafcutting bee Megachile (Moureapis) maculata (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae) in a montane forest

Sabino, WilliamDe O., Antonini, Yasmine
Apidologie 2017 v.48 no.4 pp. 450-460
Helianthus annuus, Megachile, bees, brood cells, females, males, montane forests, mortality, multivoltine habit, natural enemies, natural history, nesting, pollination, pollinators, sex ratio, wasps, Brazil
Studies on the nesting biology of cavity nesting hymenoptera (bees and wasps) have stimulated many questions related to the behavior, life cycle, trophic niche, and sex ratio to better understanding of the life history of insects. Leafcutting bees are common insects, and many are important and efficient pollinators of crops and other plants. We studied the nesting biology of Megachile (Moureapis) maculata in a montane semi-deciduous forest in Brazil using trap nests in order to improve the knowledge of aspects of the natural history of this important pollinator group. During 27 months, 87 nests were collected with an average of seven brood cells per nest. Most of the nests were in cavities of 0.9 cm in diameter (77%), and the number of brood cells ranged from 1 to 11. Absence of seasonality in nesting behavior suggests a multivoltine species. The total mortality rate was 26%, with the cuckoo bee Coelyoxis (Acrocoelioxys) sp. being the main natural enemy attacking 15% of brood cells. The sex ratio is clearly male-biased (1:0.42). Females and their brood cells were larger than males and their brood cells, which may suggest an imbalance in the energetic cost of each sex. The success of this bee species in colonizing trap nests makes it an interesting potential opportunity to use this species for pollination of cultivated Asteraceae plant species, like sunflower.