Evolution and Systematics
Some species of bees send signals to other bees via temporary scent marks.
"When a bumblebee finds a nectar-rich flower, it tags the blossom with a scent mark, identifying the flower as being worth a return visit. Since bumblebees are social insects that work for the good of the colony, researchers suspect that individual members of a hive leave marks that help their hivemates find the best blossoms.
"Solitary bees are a different story. Foraging only for her own young, each female is in direct competition with all others of the same species. But Francis Gilbert, of the University of Nottingham, and colleagues have shown that solitary bees also rely on scent markings to identify the best food sources…like bumblebees, solitary bees rely on at least two separate components in their scent markings. One is a self-repellent that wears off within about thirty minutes, dissipating as the plant renews its stock of nectar. By the time the flower once again has a full supply, the scent has degraded to the point that the bee is no longer repelled by it. The other component is a short-term attractant, lasting less than three minutes. The scientists suggest that the bee might use this mark if it doesn't extract all the available nectar during an initial visit, facilitating a return within seconds to finish the job." (Weir 2001)
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Gilbert F, Azmeh S, Barnard C, Behnke J, Collins SA, Hurst J, Shuker D. 2001. Individually recognizable scent marks on flowers made by a solitary bee. Animal Behaviour. 61(1): 217-229.
Weir, Kirsten L. 2001. Chemical talk. Natural History Magazine, Inc.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Anthophora plumipes
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 9
Species With Barcodes: 1
The adults grow up to 13–15 millimetres (0.51–0.59 in) long and can be encountered from March to June, feeding and collecting pollen and nectar on early flowering plants, mainly on (Primulaceae species (Primula veris, Primula acaulis, etc.), Boraginaceae species (Pulmonaria officinalis, Borago officinalis, etc.), Lamiaceae species (Lamium purpureum) and Fumariaceae (Corydalis sp.).
The body is densely hairy, most often gray in males and black or brown in females, but there are numerous color forms over the species' geographic range, which have resulted in this species being described under many different names. The middle legs of males are very elongated with long tufts of black hairs on the tarsi (hence the Latin word plumipes), used as a visual signal during mating. Males are also distinguished from females by having the integument of the lower face yellow, rather than black.
These solitary bees do not build colonies. The females usually make nests in clay slopes and steep walls of mud, where they excavate cells, which they fill with pollen and nectar (as food for the larvae), laying a single egg on each pollen mass.
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