Friday, May 18, 2012

Nomadic, Parasitic, Enigmatic and Endangered

Goode's Nomad Bee, Nomada goodeniana
Bees should be busy. Busy and industrious. Honey bees are often used as an example of how a society should operate, self sacrifice for the greater good and all that. And bumble bees are seen as grouchy and clumsy, visiting flowers as noisily as they like, hardworking to the last to provide for their larvae. Yet of the 102 bee species in Ireland, 80 of them are solitary bees (1) who do not adhere to this busy stereotype at all. Males and females mate, lay eggs in a nest and die off with the coming winter. The resultant offspring emerge in the spring to fend for themselves. Many solitary bees don't even look like the common idea of a bee and resemble more a wasp. This is certainly the case for pretty Goode's Nomad Bee (Nomada goodeniana) with its bold yellow and black striped abdomen. Unlike pollen gathering bees, N. goodeniana lacks hairs on its body, another things it has in common with smooth bodied wasps. Nomad bees like N. goodeniana lay their eggs in the nests of other bees (2). The hatching grubs will feed on the larvae of the hosts, which has caused them to be also called cuckoo bees. Unfortunately N. goodeniana is an endangered species in Ireland (1), a situation which is exacerbated by the lack of information on the bee. More research into the habitat requirements and host-parasite ecology of N. goodeniana in Ireland to put in place policies to help this species (3).
Goode's Nomad Bee, Nomada goodeniana

  1. Fitzpatrick et al., 2006. Regional Red List of Irish Bees
  2. Chinery, 2004. Collins Gen Insects p. 242
  3. Fitzpatrick et al., 2007. Conservation Biology 21 pp. 1324-1332

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