Variation in Alfalfa Leafcutting Bee (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae) Reproductive Success According to Location of Nests in United States Commercial Domiciles

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The alfalfa leafcutting bee, Megachile rotundata F., is used extensively to pollinate alfalfa for seed production in western North America. However, it usually is not possible to sustain bee populations in the United States. In the managed pollination system, variable microenvironments are experienced by developing M. rotundata during the nesting season that may influence bee reproductive success. In this study, bee cells were produced in a small alfalfa field and collected from domiciles according to nesting boards and different portions of boards. Examination of cells showed that the production of live overwintering prepupae, diseased larvae, other dead eggs and larvae, and cells attacked by natural enemies varied according to board orientations and positions, and portions of the boards. Northeast-facing board samples were significantly heavier and had more pollen balls and chalkbrood compared with southwest-facing boards. Lower boards in stacks had significantly more chalkbrood than upper boards. Outer portions of boards had significantly more live prepupae and less chalkbrood than middle and inner portions, and outer and middle portions had less summer-emerging bees. These results suggest that reproductive success could be altered by changing the orientation of boards within domiciles or changing the designs of domiciles. To accurately assess the quality of bee populations managed in the commercial loose cell system, a sample of bees should be taken from a pooled sample from all boards in each domicile. Each domicile sample should then be evaluated according to its proportional contribution to the whole field's progeny production (e.g., by weight or volume).

Keywords: Megachile rotundata; Megachilidae; alfalfa; pollination; reproduction

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 2013

More about this publication?
  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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