UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab - The Buzz, Volume 22, December 2018
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Kleptoparasite bees are named as such because of their distinctive characteristic of laying their eggs on the nests of other bee's. About 15% of the world's bee species are kleptoparasites. The general name for kleptoparasite bees is a "cuckoo bee," named as so because of their similarity to the cuckoo bird that practices brood parasitism. Parasitism is when one animal forms some kind of relationship with another animal, but only the one parasitizing is benefiting from the relationship. In the case of the kleptoparasite cuckoo bee, the cuckoo larvae will eat the other bee's resources, and sometimes the host bee's larvae when it is in the nest. 

In terms of appearance, the cuckoo bee does not resemble the classic bee, and instead looks more like a wasp. They don't have much hair on them, and they lack pollen collecting hairs since they no longer collect pollen or nectar for their young. They do, however; still visit flowers for nectar. Cuckoo bees also tend to have more pointed abdomens compared to classic bees (observe Coelioxys rufitarsis abdomen). 

Cuckoo bees can be really specific on the hosts that they parasitize, female cuckoo bees can often be spotted waiting for a female bee to leave her nest so she can infiltrate and take over. In our Berkeley garden we have seen cuckoo bees in action. We have specifically observed the Coelioxys rufitarsis (shown below) bee parasitizing the common leafcutting bee, Megachile perihirta
Female Coelioxys rufitarsis
Can you tell the difference between a friendly bee, and a nest stealing kleptoparasite? Below are some photos of bees, some of which are kleptoparasites. Decide what you think the identity of each bee is! 
The Urban Bee Lab has been working in Ventura County since 2014 installing native bee habitats on three different farms in the area. We have been able to cultivate great relationships with all of the growers, and we are now specifically looking at avocado pollinators. This research is extremely important, as many people are not aware of non-honey bee avocado pollinators. As of now we have found ~30 species of wasps, native bees, and flies. While we are ramping up this research, a big component of our work is also outreach. These three ranches continue to offer more acres of their land so we can install more native bee habitats and take our research further. A picture of one of our garden expansions is shown below. We are currently in the process of installing a demonstration garden on one of the ranches in Saticoy. This garden will be used as an outreach tool so other growers, farmers, gardeners, bee-people, and interested community members can come and tour the garden and learn how to set up their own bee habitat. In the future we are excited at the prospect of hosting workshops, talks, and tours in this space. We are expanding habitat gardens not only for research, but also to educate and spread knowledge across the bounds of academia.
Current Ventura garden on the left and area where we are expanding the garden on the right 
City Slicker Farms Harvest Festival: 

Dr. Frankie, lab manager Marissa, and research assistant Ivonne attended the City Slicker Farms 2018 Harvest Festival this October! We provided information on native California bees and brought along specimens.  There were two Harvest Festival days, one specifically for 2nd grader and one for the general public. The Urban Bee lab attended both and had around 250 2nd graders show up and 200 community members. The event was a good opportunity to educate the public on the importance on creating habitats for native bees and to help the public identify the the distinct qualities of native bees. 

Marin Conservation League Committee Presentation: 
Dr. Gordon Frankie spoke  on behalf of the Urban Bee Lab at The Marin Conservation League Agricultural Land Use Committee tomorrow on October 26th. His talk covered Global Pollinator Decline and Recovery Strategies.
Upcoming Events:

Jan. 10, 2019. Carolands Garden Club. Dr. Gordon Frankie will be speaking about the importance of attracting native bees and how to do so to members of the club. 

Answers to Naughty or Nice
Top Left: Kleptoparasite (Triepeolus)

Top Right: Kleptoparasite (Melecta separata)

Second Row Left: Bee (Anthidium manicatum)

Second Row Right: Kleptoparasite(Triepeolus)

Third Row Left: Bee (Epeolus minimus)

Third Row Right: Bee (Apidae)

Bottom Left: Bee (Anthidium maculosum)

Bottom Right: Kleptoparasite (Coelioxys)
Bee of the Month – Hylaeus mesillae

Also known as "masked  bees," these tiny, hairless, black bees usually have distinctive yellow markings on their faces. The females have a pair of yellow vertical marks on either side of the lower middle face just inside the compound eyes, while males have a broader central yellow mark in addition to their lateral facial stripes. Females lack the an external pollen transport structure, and use the digestive tract to transport pollen internally. 

They resemble some Lasioglossum, Ceratina, and Andrena bees. Hylaeus encompasses 150 species worldwide, and within North America there are 50 species. Of those 50, 26 are within California and we have found 11 at our garden sites, mostly H. mesillae, H. polifolii, H. punctatus, and H. rudbeckiae. 

Hylaeus can be found slowly and deliberately flying around from March into October, commonly found on Achillea, Aster, Ceanothus, Eriogonum, Phacelia, Salvia, and Solidago. They are solitary bees and will nest in tunnels such as beetle burrows and hollow stems. 

Look out for these tiny bees in your garden!

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UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab · Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, UC Berkeley · 130 Mulford Hall #3114 · Berkeley, Ca 94720 · USA

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