Factors Affecting Alfalfa Leafcutting Bee Development (Megachile Rotundata)
Pollinating Insects-- Biology, Management and Systematics Research
Project Number: 5428-21000-015-14
Specific Cooperative Agreement
Start Date: Jun 05, 2009
End Date: Jun 04, 2014
The alfalfa leafcutting bee is a critical pollinator for alfalfa seed production. Improved methods for managing alfalfa leafcutting bee health is needed so that growers can more effectively produce their own bees and not have to rely so extensively on importing bees from Canada. The objective of this project is to construct a model that combines information regarding rearing temperatures and post-overwinter development time, survival, and adult bee condition and provide recommendations on rearing temperatures that minimize development time and variability in development rates, while simultaneously maximizing bee survival and adult bee condition.
The approach is relatively straightforward, involving 1) collection of bees cells at different times of year from multiple sources, 2) dissection of large samples of bees cells to diagnose mortality factors, and 3) conducting life-table analyses. The latter is being done at Montana State University which has expertise on life table analyses, including accounting for irreplaceable mortality. The analyses will be done using a computer program developed specifically for these analyses. Overall, the study should provide new insights into benefits to be obtained from potential strategies for reducing developmental mortality of alfalfa leafcutting bees.