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Concept: Halictidae


INTRODUCTION: Primitively eusocial halictid bees are excellent systems to study the origin of eusociality, because all individuals have retained the ancestral ability to breed independently. In the sweat bee Halictus scabiosae, foundresses overwinter, establish nests and rear a first brood by mass-provisioning each offspring with pollen and nectar. The mothers may thus manipulate the phenotype of their offspring by restricting their food provisions. The first brood females generally help their mother to rear a second brood of males and gynes that become foundresses. However, the first brood females may also reproduce in their maternal or in other nests, or possibly enter early diapause. Here, we examined if the behavioural specialization of the first and second brood females was associated with between-brood differences in body size, energetic reserves and pollen provisions. RESULTS: The patterns of variation in adult body size, weight, fat content and food provisioned to the first and second brood indicate that H. scabiosae has dimorphic females. The first-brood females were significantly smaller, lighter and had lower fat reserves than the second-brood females and foundresses. The first-brood females were also less variable in size and fat content, and developed on homogeneously smaller pollen provisions. Foundresses were larger than gynes of the previous year, suggesting that small females were less likely to survive the winter. CONCLUSIONS: The marked size dimorphism between females produced in the first and second brood and the consistently smaller pollen provisions provided to the first brood suggest that the first brood females are channelled into a helper role during their pre-imaginal development. As a large body size is needed for successful hibernation, the mother may promote helping in her first brood offspring by restricting their food provisions. This pattern supports the hypothesis that parental manipulation may contribute to promote worker behaviour in primitively eusocial halictids.

Concepts: Insect, Mother, Honey, Bee, Ant, Eusociality, Halictidae, Gyne


Accurate predictions of pollination service delivery require a comprehensive understanding of the interactions between plants and flower visitors. To improve measurements of pollinator performance underlying such predictions, we surveyed visitation frequency, pollinator effectiveness (pollen deposition ability) and pollinator importance (the product of visitation frequency and effectiveness) of flower visitors in a diverse Mediterranean flower meadow. With these data we constructed the largest pollinator importance network to date and compared it with the corresponding visitation network to estimate the specialisation of the community with greater precision. Visitation frequencies at the community level were positively correlated with the amount of pollen deposited during individual visits, though rarely correlated at lower taxonomic resolution. Bees had the highest levels of pollinator effectiveness, with Apis, Andrena, Lasioglossum and Osmiini bees being the most effective visitors to a number of plant species. Bomblyiid flies were the most effective non-bee flower visitors. Predictions of community specialisation (H2') were higher in the pollinator importance network than the visitation network, mirroring previous studies. Our results increase confidence in existing measures of pollinator redundancy at the community level using visitation data, while also providing detailed information on interaction quality at the plant species level.

Concepts: Insect, Wavelength, Pollination, Flower, Pollinator decline, Pollen, Pollinator, Halictidae


The 2013 EU ban of three neonicotinoids used in seed coating of pollinator attractive crops was put in place because of concern about declining wild pollinator populations and numbers of honeybee colonies. It was also concluded that there is an urgent need of good field data to fill knowledge gaps. In the meantime such data have been generated. Based on recent literature we question the existence of recent pollinator declines and their possible link with the use of neonicotinoids. Because of temporal non-coincidence we conclude that declines of wild pollinators and of honeybees are not likely caused by neonicotinoids. Even if bee decline does occur and if there is a causal relationship with the use of neonicotinoids, we argue that it is not possible on such short term to evaluate the effects of the 2013 ban. In order to supply future debate with realistic (field) data and to discourage extrapolating the effects of studies using overdoses that are not of environmental relevance, we propose - in addition to field studies performed by the chemical industry - to use the ‘semi-field worst case’ treated artificial diet studies approach to free flying colonies in the field. This kind of studies may provide realistic estimates for risk and be useful to study realistic interactions with non-pesticide stressors.

Concepts: Causality, Honey bee, Beekeeping, Pollinator decline, Bee, Bumblebee, Pollinator, Halictidae


Although corn (Zea mays L.) and soybeans (Glycine max L.) do not require pollination, they offer floral resources used by insect pollinators. We asked if a similar community of insect pollinators visits these crops in central Iowa, a landscape dominated by corn and soybean production. We used modified pan traps (i.e., bee bowls) in both corn and soybean fields during anthesis and used nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMS) to compare the communities found in the two crops. Summed across both crops, 6,704 individual insects were captured representing at least 60 species, morphospecies, or higher-level taxa. Thirty-four species were collected in both crops, 19 collected only in corn and seven were collected only in soybean. The most abundant taxa were Lasioglossum [Dialictus] spp., Agapostemon virescens Cresson, Melissodes bimaculata (Lepeletier), and Toxomerus marginatus (Say), which accounted for 65% of the insect pollinators collected from both crops. Although social bees (Apis mellifera L. and Bombus spp.) were found in both crops, they accounted for only 0.5% of all insects captured. The NMS analysis revealed a shared community of pollinators composed of mostly solitary, ground nesting bees. Many of these species have been found in other crop fields throughout North America. Although corn and soybean are grown in landscapes that are often highly disturbed, these data suggest that a community of pollinators can persist within them. We suggest approaches to conserving this community based on partnering with activities that aim to lessen the environmental impact of annual crop production.

Concepts: Soybean, Honey bee, Pollination, Maize, Bee, Bumblebee, Pollinator, Halictidae


Wild bees are important pollinators that have declined in diversity and abundance during the last decades. Habitat destruction and fragmentation associated with urbanization are reported as part of the main causes of this decline. Urbanization involves dramatic changes of the landscape, increasing the proportion of impervious surface while decreasing that of green areas. Few studies have investigated the effects of urbanization on bee communities. We assessed changes in the abundance, species richness, and composition of wild bee community along an urbanization gradient.

Concepts: Function, Bee, Bumblebee, Halictidae


Bees provide essential pollination services that are potentially affected both by local farm management and the surrounding landscape. To better understand these different factors, we modelled the relative effects of landscape composition (nesting and floral resources within foraging distances), landscape configuration (patch shape, interpatch connectivity and habitat aggregation) and farm management (organic vs. conventional and local-scale field diversity), and their interactions, on wild bee abundance and richness for 39 crop systems globally. Bee abundance and richness were higher in diversified and organic fields and in landscapes comprising more high-quality habitats; bee richness on conventional fields with low diversity benefited most from high-quality surrounding land cover. Landscape configuration effects were weak. Bee responses varied slightly by biome. Our synthesis reveals that pollinator persistence will depend on both the maintenance of high-quality habitats around farms and on local management practices that may offset impacts of intensive monoculture agriculture.

Concepts: Agriculture, Pollination, Pollinator decline, Bee, Bumblebee, Pollinator, Natural landscape, Halictidae


The type specimens of Lasioglossum Curtis, 1833 deposited in the Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences (St. Petersburg) are reviewed. Primary types of 69 taxa are illustrated and detailed information is provided (taxa include 33 described by F. Morawitz; 16 by P. Blüthgen; 15 by Yu. Pesenko (one of them with N. Davydova); four by E. Eversmann; and one by T.D.A. Cockerell). Lectotypes are designated here for the following eleven nominal taxa: Halictus anguliceps Morawitz, 1893, H. corvinus Morawitz, 1877, H. debilis Morawitz, 1893, H. glabriusculus Morawitz, 1872, H. gussakovskii Blüthgen, 1929, H. hyalinipennis Morawitz, 1876, H. morbillosus orientis Cockerell, 1924, H. popovi Blüthgen, 1931, H. porcus Morawitz, 1872, H. puncticollis Morawitz, 1872, and H. truncaticollis Morawitz, 1877.

Concepts: 1957, 1962, Bee, Halictidae, March 4, 1946, 1953, January 23


In Utricularia, the flower spur is a nectary and in this organ, nectar is produced and stored. This study aimed to examine the structure of the nectary trichomes in four Utricularia species (Utricularia vulgaris L., U. australis R.Br., U. bremii Heer and U. foliosa L.) from the generic section Utricularia. We have investigated whether species with different spur morphology had similar spur anatomy and nectary trichome structure. In Utricularia flowers, nectar is produced by spur capitate trichomes (sessile or stalked). Our results showed that regardless of the various spur morphology, trichomes have similar architecture and ultrastructure. Head cells of these trichomes are transfer cells with an eccrine nectar secretion. Examined species differed in the micromorphology of papillae in spurs. The fly Eristalis tenax was found to be a pollinator of U. vulgaris. Small Halictidae bees seem to be pollinators of U. foliosa.

Concepts: Pollination, Plant morphology, Flower, Bee, Carnivorous plant, Utricularia, Halictidae, Utricularia vulgaris


The objective here is to identify highly polymorphic microsatellite loci for the Palaearctic sweat bee Lasioglossum malachurum. Sweat bees (Hymenoptera: Halictidae) are widespread pollinators that exhibit an unusually large range of social behaviours from non-social, where each female nests alone, to eusocial, where a single queen reproduces while the other members of the colony help to rear her offspring. They thus represent excellent models for understanding social evolution.

Concepts: Insect, Bee, Ant, Pollinators, Hymenoptera, Bees, Apocrita, Halictidae


Evaluations of restoration success usually focus on the structural aspects of ecosystems. Pollination, as an important functional aspect, is often overlooked. Here, the shifts in pollinator assemblage and pollen limitation in the desert shrub Caragana microphylla were examined along a restoration gradient in Horqin Sand Land, northern China. We identified seven species of bees; however, only four bee species were found to be effective pollinators, with Xanthosaurus remota dominating in the fixed dunes, and with no bee species or only a single species, X. remota, being observed in the semi-fixed and mobile dunes. Flower visitation rate was nearly ten times higher in the fixed dunes than in the mobile and semi-fixed dunes. Experimental floral manipulations revealed that the fixed dune populations experienced less pollen limitation, along with the increase in pollinator availability. Between the mobile and semi-fixed dune populations, pollen limitation was severe and at similar levels. The intensity of pollen limitation was negatively related to pollinator abundance and richness. Overall, the dependence on pollinators for reproduction may be an important constraint that limits persistence in this system. Increased pollinator service during the restoration process may ameliorate pollen limitation, benefiting the restoration of vegetation in this semiarid sandy area.

Concepts: Pollination, Flower, Pollinator decline, Pollen, Bee, Bumblebee, Pollinator, Halictidae