Reproductive potential and nesting effects of Osmia rufa (syn. bicornis) female (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae)

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The red mason bee Osmia rufa is a solitary bee belonging to the family Megachilidae, and is prone to nest in aggregations. Each female builds a nest separately in pre-existing cavities such as holes in wood and walls or empty plant stems. This is done by successively setting the cells in a linear series. In this study, we elucidate the nesting behavior and the reproductive potential of a single O. rufa female. The reproductive potential of nesting females was evaluated after the offspring finished development. We observed that an individual female may colonize up to five nest tubes and build 5-34 cells in them (16 on an average). During the nesting time the number of cells decreased with the sequence of nest tubes colonized by one female, which built a maximum of 11 cells in the first occupied nest and 5 cells in the last (fifth nest). Our observations indicated that 40% of nesting females colonized one nest tube as compared to 7% colonizing five nest tubes. Furthermore, in subsequent nest tubes the number of cells with freshly emerged females gradually decreased which was the reverse with males. Thus, the sex ratio (proportion of male and female offspring) may change during the nesting period. The female offspring predominated in the first two nesting tubes, while in the subsequent three tubes male offspring dominated. We also cataloged different causes of reduction in abundance of offspring in O. rufa females such as parasitization or problem associated with moulting.

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