Seasonal trends in the condition of nesting females of a solitary bee: wing wear, lipid content, and oocyte size

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During the nesting season, adult females of the solitary bee Megachile rotundata (F.) face considerable physical and energy demands that could include increasing wear and tear on their bodies and decreasing lipid reserves. Consequently, their reproductive performance may be affected not only by extrinsic factors (e.g., weather and floral resource availability), but intrinsic changes in their own bodies. Because of the potential fitness effects of seasonal changes in body condition, our objectives were to determine how wing wear, lipid reserves, and oocyte sizes vary during nesting seasons, beginning when females emerge as adults. As nesting progressed, females in two populations experienced a steady increase in wing wear, which is known to reduce foraging efficiency and increase risk of mortality in other bees. Soon after emergence, females exhibited sharp declines in lipid content which remained low for the remainder of the season. Newly-emerged females ingested pollen, an activity known to be correlated with the initiation of egg maturation in this species. Additionally, the early summer drop in lipid stores was correlated with an increase in the size of the oocytes carried. However, by ∼6 weeks after emergence, oocytes began to decrease in length and volume, perhaps due to nutrient deficiencies related to loss of stored lipids. Our results suggest management of M. rotundata should include rearing bees at temperatures that maximize stored lipid reserves in adults and timing bee release so that significant pollen resources are available for both adults and offspring.




O'Neill, Kevin M., Casey M. Delphia, and Theresa L. Pitts-Singer. "Seasonal trends in the condition of nesting females of a solitary bee: wing wear, lipid content, and oocyte size." PeerJ 3 (July 2015): e930. DOI:
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