While we’re at the Southwestern Research Station we hope to: 1) get many bee larvae for our project, and 2) learn all we can from Jerry Rozen. Not only is he arguably the most knowledgeable larval bee expert around, he is also generous with his knowledge and witty to boot.
Jerry told us about Hesperapis rhodocerata, a bee in the basal Melittidae that he has found can remain in larval diapause for five years, waiting presumably for good conditions in order to complete their development and emerge collectively as adults. (Paper here: http://hdl.handle.net/2246/6646). Jerry showed us some H. rhodocerata larvae he has excavated, which are currently in the lab. These larvae are essentially in a physiological holding pattern while in diapause, but no one knows what environmental cue prompts these bees to complete their development and emerge simultaneously.
We then went hunting for Hesperapis trochanterata and their as yet undescribed nests. We found individuals foraging on Nama outside Willcox, but did not find any nests despite the promise of Dairy Queen treats for the finder of the first nest.
Tomorrow we’ll go see Hesperapis rhodocerata nests for ourselves. Still in store: the search for Agave-cavity-nesting Lithurgopsis. Stay tuned.
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