Nav: Home

A new hope: One of North America's rarest bees has its known range greatly expanded

April 16, 2018

The Macropis Cuckoo Bee is one of the rarest bees in North America, partly because of its specialized ecological associations. It is a nest parasite of oil-collecting bees of the genus Macropis which, in turn, are dependent on oil-producing flowers of the genus Lysimachia.

In fact, the cuckoo bee - which much like its feather-bearing counterpart does not build a nest of its own, but lays its eggs in those of other species instead - is so rare that it was thought to have gone extinct until it was collected in Nova Scotia, Canada, in the early 2000s. As a result, the Macropis Cuckoo Bee was brought to the attention of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).

Recently, an individual reported from Alberta, Canada, brought new hope for the survival of the species. In addition to previously collected specimens from Ontario, this record greatly expands the known range of the cuckoo.

Scientists Dr Cory S Sheffield, Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Canada, who was the one to rediscover the "extinct" species in Nova Scotia, and Jennifer Heron, British Columbia Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy, present their new data, and discuss the conservation status of this species in their paper, published in the open access journal Biodiversity Data Journal.

"This species has a very interesting biology," they say, "being a nest parasite - or cuckoo - of another group of bees that in turn have very specialized dietary needs."

The hosts, bees of the genus Macropis (which themselves are quite rare) are entirely dependent on plants of the primrose genus Lysimachia. Moreover, they only go after those Lysimachia species whose flowers produce oil droplets, which the insects collect and feed to their larvae. Thus, Macropis bees require these oil-producing flowers to exist just like Macropis Cuckoo Bees need their hosts and their nests. Curiously, this reliance, as suggested by previous studies on related European species, has made the female cuckoos develop the ability to find their host's nests by the smell of the floral oils.

"This level of co-dependence between flower, bee, and cuckoo bee, makes for a very tenuous existence, especially for the cuckoo," the authors comment. "The recent specimen from Alberta lets us know that the species is still out there, and is more widespread than we thought."

In conclusion, the authors suggest that continuing to monitor for populations of rare bees, and documenting historic records, are crucial for conservation status assessments of at-risk species.

"Biodiversity Data Journal provides a great venue to share this type of information with our colleagues for regional, national, and international efforts for species conservation," they note.
-end-
Original source:

Sheffield C, Heron J (2018) A new western Canadian record of Epeoloides pilosulus (Cresson), with discussion of ecological associations, distribution and conservation status in Canada. Biodiversity Data Journal 6: e22837. https://doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.6.e22837

Pensoft Publishers

Related Bees Articles:

To buzz or to scrabble? To foraging bees, that's the question
A team of UA biologists has discovered that for a hard-working bumblebee, foraging for pollen versus nectar is very different -- and tougher than you might think.
Nicotine enhances bees' activity
Nicotine-laced nectar can speed up a bumblebee's ability to learn flower colors, according to scientists at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).
Scientists say agriculture is good for honey bees
Scientists with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture evaluated the impacts of row-crop agriculture, including the traditional use of pesticides, on honey bee health.
Honey bees have sharper eyesight than we thought
Research conducted at the University of Adelaide has discovered that bees have much better vision than was previously known, offering new insights into the lives of honey bees, and new opportunities for translating this knowledge into fields such as robot vision.
Overuse of antibiotics brings risks for bees -- and for us
Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin have found that honeybees treated with a common antibiotic were half as likely to survive the week after treatment compared with a group of untreated bees, a finding that may have health implications for bees and people alike.
Flies and bees act like plant cultivators
Pollinator insects accelerate plant evolution, but a plant changes in different ways depending on the pollinator.
Bees can learn to use a tool by observing others
Simply by watching other bees, bumblebees can learn to use a novel tool to obtain a reward, a new study reveals.
Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
Attacks by robber bees result in the evolution of larger guard bees and thus promote the division of labor in the hive.
Save the bees? There's an app for that
A new mobile app can calculate the crop productivity and pollination benefits of supporting endangered bees.
Sweat bees on hot chillies: Native bees thrive in traditional farming, securing good yield
Farming doesn't always have to be harmful to bees: Even though farmers on the Mexican peninsula of Yucatan traditionally slash-and-burn forest to create small fields, this practice can be beneficial to sweat bees by creating attractive habitats.

Related Bees Reading:

Bees: A Honeyed History
by Piotr Socha (Author)

One part science, one part cultural history, and countless parts fascination, Bees celebrates the important role that these intriguing insects have played in our ecosystem throughout the ages. From Athena to Alexander the Great and from Egypt to Ethiopia, Bees explores different methods of beekeeping and uncovers the debt that humans owe this vital species. With beautifully accessible illustrations depicting everything from bee anatomy to the essentials of honey making, readers will be captivated by the endless wonders of this seemingly small speck of the animal kingdom.View Details


National Geographic Readers: Bees
by Laura Marsh (Author)

What's that buzzing around? It's a busy bee! With beautiful, engaging, and authentic photos, and accessible text, kids will learn all about these incredible insects in this level 2 reader. View Details


The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America’s Bees
by Joseph S. Wilson (Author), Olivia J. Messinger Carril (Author)

The Bees in Your Backyard provides an engaging introduction to the roughly 4,000 different bee species found in the United States and Canada, dispelling common myths about bees while offering essential tips for telling them apart in the field.

The book features more than 900 stunning color photos of the bees living all around us―in our gardens and parks, along nature trails, and in the wild spaces between. It describes their natural history, including where they live, how they gather food, their role as pollinators, and even how to attract them to your own backyard. Ideal... View Details


100 Plants to Feed the Bees: Provide a Healthy Habitat to Help Pollinators Thrive
by The Xerces Society (Author)

The international bee crisis is threatening our global food supply, but this user-friendly field guide shows what you can do to help protect our pollinators. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation offers browsable profiles of 100 common flowers, herbs, shrubs, and trees that support bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds. The recommendations are simple: pick the right plants for pollinators, protect them from pesticides, and provide abundant blooms throughout the growing season by mixing perennials with herbs and annuals! 100 Plants to Feed the Bees will empower... View Details


The Beekeeper's Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes & Other Home Uses
by Richard Jones (Author), Sharon Sweeney-Lynch (Author)

The Beekeeper’s Bible is as much an ultimate guide to the practical essentials of beekeeping as it is a beautiful almanac to be read from cover to cover. Part history book, part handbook, and part cookbook, this illustrated tome covers every facet of the ancient hobby of beekeeping, from how to manage hives safely to harvesting one's own honey, and ideas for how to use honey and beeswax. Detailed instructions for making candles, furniture polish, beauty products, and nearly 100 honey-themed recipes are included. Fully illustrated with how-to photography and unique etchings, any... View Details


Are You a Bee? (Backyard Books)
by Judy Allen (Author), Tudor Humphries (Illustrator)

Backyard Books: Are You a Bee? by Judy Allen with illustrations by Tudor Humphries shows that--from the perspective of a honeybee--the backyard is a busy place. A young bee faces many challenges as it takes its place in the hive and joins in the work of the bee community.

View Details


The Secret Life of Bees
by Sue Monk Kidd (Author)

The multi-million bestselling novel about a young girl's journey towards healing and the transforming power of love, from the award-winning author of The Invention of Wings

Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina--a town that holds the secret to... View Details


The Bee: A Natural History
by Noah Wilson-Rich (Author), Kelly Allin (Contributor), Norman Carreck (Contributor), Andrea Quigley (Contributor)

Bees pollinate more than 130 fruit, vegetable, and seed crops that we rely on to survive. Bees are crucial to the reproduction and diversity of flowering plants, and the economic contributions of these irreplaceable insects measure in the tens of billions of dollars each year. Yet bees are dying at an alarming rate, threatening food supplies and ecosystems around the world. In this richly illustrated natural history of the bee, Noah Wilson-Rich and his team of bee experts provide a window into the vitally important role that bees play in the life of our planet.

Earth is home to more... View Details


Our Native Bees: North America’s Endangered Pollinators and the Fight to Save Them
by Paige Embry (Author)

"Captures the essence of a bee’s natural history and how we use (and sometimes abuse) bees.” —Olivia Messinger Carril, author of The Bees in Your Backyard

Honey bees get all the press, but the fascinating story of North America’s native bees—an endangered species essential to our ecosystems and food supplies—is just as crucial. Through interviews with farmers, gardeners, scientists, and bee experts, Our Native Bees explores the importance of native bees and focuses on why they play a key role in gardening and agriculture. The people and stories... View Details


The Bees: A Novel
by Laline Paull (Author)

The Bees View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Turning Kids Into Grown-Ups
Parenting is fraught with uncertainty, changing with each generation. This hour, TED speakers share ideas about raising kids and how — despite our best efforts — we're probably still doing it wrong. Guests include former Stanford dean Julie Lythcott-Haims, former firefighter Caroline Paul, author Peggy Orenstein, psychologist Dr. Aala El-Khani, and poet Sarah Kay.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#470 Information Spookyhighway
This week we take a closer look at a few of the downsides of the modern internet, and some of the security and privacy challenges that are becoming increasingly troublesome. Rachelle Saunders speaks with cyber security expert James Lyne about how modern hacking differs from the hacks of old, and how an internet without national boards makes it tricky to police online crime across jurisdictions. And Bethany Brookshire speaks with David Garcia, a computer scientist at the Complexity Science Hub and the Medical University of Vienna, about the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, and how social media platforms put a wrench...