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Life Cycle

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Mining bees are ground nesters and most are solitary, although they will form aggregations. Bees emerge in the spring, with males emerging slightly before females, and mating occurring shortly thereafter. After mating, females begin constructing their nests - a vertical tunnel lined with a shiny water-proof secretion and side cells. Small mounds of soil are often left above ground around the nest. In each cell the female places a pollen ball and lays one egg, usually laying less than 30 eggs in total. Once the nest is finished, the female caps the nest with soil. The eggs hatch into larvae, which consume the pollen balls, and then enter hibernation. During late summer, the larvae pupate and turn into adult bees, emerging from the nest the following spring. After emerging, adults live for about one month.
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Brief Summary

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Mining bees (Andrena spp.), also known as miner bees, sand bees, and digger bees, are named for their practice of nesting underground. These bees are found worldwide, except in Oceania and South America, and are native to North America. Mining bees are small to medium sized bees, ranging from six to 16 mm long. Males are slightly smaller than females. They are brown to black with whitish abdominal bands and are moderately hairy. Mining bees nest in exposed, sandy soils with good drainage. Their nests are often built near or under shrubs, and in banks, hills, and road cut-outs.
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Pollinator

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Mining bees are small to medium sized bees with hairy bodies. Their hairy bodies collect large amounts of pollen, which is then carried on the hind legs in pollen baskets. Females tend to return to the same flower patches, visiting near-neighbors of the flower previously visited. Mining bees are effective and common pollinators of many crops, including low bush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), alfalfa (Medicago sativa), and apple (Malus domestica) and other fruit trees. Along with crop plants, mining bees pollinate plants in natural systems, too, specializing on a narrow range of plants as pollen sources. Examples include spotted coral-root (Corallorhiza maculata), small white lady's-slipper (Cypripedium candidum), yellow carpet (Blemnosperma spp.), meadowfoam (Limnanthes spp.), goldfield (Lasthenia spp.), and skyblue (Downingia spp.).
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Andrena

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Andrena is a genus of bees in the family Andrenidae. With over 1,500 species, it is one of the largest genera of animals.[2] It is a strongly monophyletic group that is difficult to split into more manageable divisions;[3][4] currently, Andrena is organized into 104 subgenera.[2] It is nearly worldwide in distribution, with the notable exceptions of Oceania and South America. Bees in this genus are commonly known as mining bees due to their ground-nesting lifestyle.

Morphology

Andrena are generally medium-sized bees; body length ranges between 8 and 17 mm with males being smaller and more slender than females. Most are black with white to tan hair, and their wings have either two or three submarginal cells. They carry pollen mainly on femoral scopal hairs, but many Andrena have an additional propodeal corbicula for carrying some pollen on their thorax.[5] They can be distinguished from other bees by the broad velvety areas in between the compound eyes and the antennal bases, called facial foveae. Some other genera in the family Andrenidae also have foveae though, so the best identifying feature unique to Andrena is the presence of a ring of hairs on the underside of their face called the "subgenal coronet".[3]

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Face of Andrena crataegi with foveae visible (shortest hairs near eyes)

Life history

Andrena vaga visiting her nest

All Andrena are ground nesting, solitary bees. They seem to have a preference for sandy soils.[6] The genus includes no parasitic or social species, though some nest communally or in aggregations. After mating, each female bee digs a burrow, collects pollen to form firm, round provisions for the larvae to eat and places them in cells lined with a shiny secretion.[5] Larvae do not spin a cocoon and they overwinter as adults. They typically have one generation per year and adults are only active for a few weeks. Andrena nests are attacked by many other insects including brood parasitic bees, blister beetles, various parasitic flies, and Strepsiptera.[7]

Many Andrena are host-plant specialists, in which a species visits flowers of only a single or a few closely related plants. Oligolectic Andrena have specialized on many different plant groups and have morphological and behavioral adaptations that suit them for their pollen preference. For example, all members of the subgenus Callandrena specialize on pollen from the plant family Asteraceae and have highly branched, fluffy scopal hairs to hold aster pollen.[8] According to Larkin et al. 2008, oligolecty was the basal trait for Andrena and a generalist diet has evolved multiple times across the genus.[9]

Distribution

Andrena are common in temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and North America and most diverse in areas with a Mediterranean climate. A small amount of species are present in sub-Saharan Africa, and there are none in South America, Australia and nearby islands, or Madagascar.[5]

Species

Partial list of species:

See comprehensive separate list.

References

  1. ^ Cory S. Sheffield (2020). "A new species of Andrena (Trachandrena) from the Southwestern United States (Hymenoptera, Andrenidae)". Journal of Hymenoptera Research. 77: 87–103. doi:10.3897/jhr.77.53704. S2CID 225682446.
  2. ^ a b Ascher, John; Pickering, John (2020). "Bee species guide and world checklist (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila)". Discover Life. Archived from the original on 2007-07-15. Retrieved 27 October 2021.
  3. ^ a b Pisanty, Gideon; Richter, Robin; Martin, Teresa; Dettman, Jeremy; Cardinal, Sophie (2021-03-17). "Molecular phylogeny, historical biogeography and revised classification of andrenine bees (Hymenoptera: Andrenidae)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution: 107151. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2021.107151. ISSN 1055-7903. PMID 33741535. S2CID 232297532.
  4. ^ Dubitzky, A., Plant, J., & Schönitzer, K. (2010). Phylogeny of the bee genus Andrena Fabricius based on morphology. Mitteilungen der Münchner Entomologischen Gesellschaft, 100, 137-202.
  5. ^ a b c C. D. Michener (2007) The Bees of the World, 2nd Edition, Johns Hopkins University Press.
  6. ^ Cane, J. H. (1991). Soils of Ground-Nesting Bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea): Texture, Moisture, Cell Depth and Climate. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, 64(4), 406–413. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25085307
  7. ^ Danforth, Bryan N.; Minckley, Robert L.; Neff, John L.; Fawcett, Frances (2019). The Solitary Bees: Biology, Evolution, Conservation. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-18932-1.
  8. ^ LaBerge WE. 1967. A revision of the bees of the genus Andrena of the Western Hemisphere. Part I. Callandrena (Hymenoptera: Andrenidae). Bulletin of the University of Nebraska State Museum Volume 7 Pp. 1-318. 7:1–318
  9. ^ Larkin, Leah L.; Neff, John L.; Simpson, Beryl B. (2008). "The evolution of a pollen diet: Host choice and diet breadth of Andrena bees (Hymenoptera: Andrenidae)". Apidologie. 39 (1): 133–145. doi:10.1051/apido:2007064. ISSN 0044-8435. S2CID 35411887.
  10. ^ Dehon, M.; Michez, D.; Nel, A.; Engel, M. S.; De Meulemeester, T. (2014). "Wing Shape of Four New Bee Fossils (Hymenoptera: Anthophila) Provides Insights to Bee Evolution". PLOS ONE. 9 (10): 1–16. Bibcode:2014PLoSO...9j8865D. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0108865. PMC 4212905. PMID 25354170.

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Andrena: Brief Summary

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Andrena is a genus of bees in the family Andrenidae. With over 1,500 species, it is one of the largest genera of animals. It is a strongly monophyletic group that is difficult to split into more manageable divisions; currently, Andrena is organized into 104 subgenera. It is nearly worldwide in distribution, with the notable exceptions of Oceania and South America. Bees in this genus are commonly known as mining bees due to their ground-nesting lifestyle.

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