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FLORIDA BEES
IDENTIFICATION PAGE # F9
May 2024

Melissodes & Triepeolus
from Alachua Co.

The female Melissodes apicatus shown here was part of an aggregation of about 150 similar females nesting in fine white sand in a Florida sandhill habitat of Gainesville during April 2024. There are wetlands nearby with large stands of pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata).

The nesting behavior of the female shown here, and of the other females around it, was as follows: The bees’ nests lacked visible entrance holes, because the fine white sand of the nest area immediately filled in any holes dug by the bees. The female bees, laden with yellow pollen, flew around the nest area, low to the ground, in order to sense the location of their underground nests. They then landed and dug down into bare sand until disappearing. The sand closed behind them, leaving no evidence of the nest entrance. Females emerged five to ten minutes later, without pollen loads.

 

The nesting area of the long-horned bee females was visited throughout the day by female Triepeolus like that shown in the entry directly below (possibly Triepeolus georgica).  Dozens of these brood parasites were observed repeatedly entering individual Melissodes nests, including the nest of the individual bee shown below.  The brood parasite of Melisosdes apicatus is currently unknown or uncertain, and the host of Triepeolus georgica is also unknown.

Size:  female 11. mm

Melissodes apicatus

(Pickerelweed longhorn bee)

Food plants:

Pickerelweed

(Pontederia cordata)

When and where seen:

May 1, 2024

(Alachua County)

WJPEG-Melissodes-apicatus-F-ONE-1-FLA-BEES-2024--#27-BP-sand-GG5A6920-(1).jpg

Female Melissodes apicatus

WJPEG-Melissodes-apicata-F-ONE-2c-HOSS-FLA-May-1-2024-BP-Sand-DSC4603.jpg

A female Melissodes apicatus disappearing into its nest

TRAITS:  This is an 11.5 mm female long-horned bee.  Some of this bee’s notable traits include the following. (1) The hair bands on the second, third and fourth segments of the abdomen (T2-T4) are white, broad and situated along the hind rim of each segment (not set back from the rim). (2) The hair on the top of the thorax (on the scutum and scutellum) is dark, with an outline of long white hairs. (3) The hair on the mesepisternum is entirely pale. There are, however, small patches of dark hairs near the pronotal lobes. (4) Hairs on the vertex  are both light and dark. (5) The bee's clypeus is protuberant and pitted throughout.

Triepeolus georgicus ?

Size:  female 11 mm

Average size

of 12 specimens (10-12 mm)

Food plants:  unknown

When and where seen:

April 30, 2024

(Alachua County)

Sandhill habitat

WJPEG-07b-TIFF-00-Triepeolus-georgicus-F-1c--TWO-FLA-2024-#25a-Gainesville-GG5A6981.jpg

Female Melissodes apicatus

WJPEG-01-TIFF-Melissodes-&-Triepeolus-23-BWP-Sand-nests-Gainesville-GG5A7882.jpg

A female Melissodes apicatus disappearing into its nest

TRIEPEOLUS TRAITS

This female Triepeolus resembles Rightmyer's description of T. georgicus and has the following traits:

GENERAL:  This is a 12 mm female bee with black pronotal lobes, tegulae and legs.  The integument is entirely black, except for the mandibles, which are  dark red medially, and the basitarsi and tarsi which are dark brown to black.  (On the antennae of  two of 12 specimens examined, F1 is partly reddish-brown).  The appressed hairs on the bee's head and body are white/greyish-white.

SCUTUM: The parallel paramedial bands running longitudinally on the scutum are distinct and connect with the band of hairs lining the apical edge of the scutum.

SCUTELLUM:  The scutellum is roughly pitted and curved apically.  The axillar spines are well-separated from the lateral edges of the scutellum, somewhat curved and moderately long.

ABDOMEN DORSAL:  On T1, the apical and basal hairbands are nearly parallel.  (The basal band bells outward & forward somewhat in the middle).  The  dark medial region of T1 is wider than the tergum's lateral hair bands.  The basal  hair band of T1 is uninterrupted; its apical band is interrupted. T2, T3, T4 apical are uninterrupted.   ABDOMEN LATERAL:  On T2, the lateral swaths of pale hairs along the tergum's sides join the apical tergal band at a weakly acute angle.

FACE/CLYPEUS:  The clypeus is somewhat protuberant (not flat).  It has a very weak midline.  Dense white hairs cover the face above and below the antennae and along the inner edges of the compound eyes. 

COMPARISONS TO  SIMILAR SPECIES.  This is not Triepeolus atripes because In that species the clypeus is flattened and has a robust midline.  This is not Triepeolus donatus because females of that species have an elongate face with a strong to moderate midline on the clypeus.   

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