Saturday, 2 April 2011
Melecta, a cleptoparasitic bee
The Melecta albifrons visiting my plum showed a very different behaviour from other bees, sluggish, like she didn't want to fly too much, climbing over the flowers to reach each of them and feeding showing a very long tongue. The bee stayed for quite a while feeding on the plum flowers. M. albifrons has a very similar distribution to its host in Britain (click here for distribution map), reaching up to the Yorkshire Wolds in the north. Its peak flight period is a few weeks after the emergence of the host, and flies from April to early June. Given that it doesn't need to collect pollen for provisioning its brood, the bee is not fussy about what flowers to visit, and tends to fly at short daily periods - the warmest - as they are less endothermic than their Anthophora hosts, as shown in the figure below.
Thorp, R. (1969). Ecology and Behavior of Melecta separata callura (Hymenoptera: Anthophoridae). American Midland Naturalist, 82 (2) DOI: 10.2307/2423782
P. G. Willmer and G. N. Stone (2004). Behavioral, Ecological, and Physiological Determinants of the Activity Patterns of Bees. Advances in the Study of Behavior, 34 , 347-466 : doi:10.1016/S0065-3454(04)34009-X