Entomological Society of America
St. Louis, Missouri
Temperature and forage effects on long-term storage of the alfalfa leafcutting bee, Megachile rotundata
Tuesday, November 19th, 10:10am -10:20am
America’s Center – Room 274
The alfalfa leafcutting bee, Megachile rotundata (F.), is the primary commercial pollinator for alfalfa seed production. Effective pollination and ease of management make it an attractive alternative pollinator; however, pollination of other crops is limited by a narrow, active window in mid-summer and unsustainable production in the United States. One hypothesis for low reproductive rates in the US is inadequate forage diversity, raising the question whether supplementing alfalfa fields with a diverse pollinator plant mix could boost reproduction and bee health. Typically commercial alfalfa leafcutting bees diapause in static cold storage at 6°C. Previous work in our lab demonstrates potential for an alternative fluctuating thermal regime (FTR) to extend bee shelf life, lengthening the viable window of bee activity. Studies have yet to investigate the interactive effects of forage diversity and temperature regime on long term storage. Here we test combined effects of enhancing alfalfa fields with pollinator plantings and thermal regime on long-term survival of the alfalfa leafcutting bee. While FTR increased survival and reduced emergence time of alfalfa leafcutting bees, forage diversity had no effect. Future work will compare macronutrient levels of bees in supplemented fields to those in alfalfa only fields; temporal changes in nutritional status will also be compared between thermal regimes. While boosting forage diversity in the field had no measurable effect, our preliminary results show dramatic benefits of FTR on long-term storage of the alfalfa leafcutting bee.
Join Mia and her colleagues on November 19th at the Entomological Society of America (ESA) conference in St. Louis, Missouri. Click here for conference details.
© Photo by Meghan Duda