Plant-Insect Interaction: Mining bee feeding on golden ragwort

The Life of Your Time

miningbeegoldenragwort Mining bee feeding on a golden ragwort. Photographed 05/02/2014 at Zaleski State Forest near Athens, Ohio.

Many species of mining bees (Hymenoptera: Andrenidae) become active early in the spring. Eager to begin feeding and breeding, these insects can emerge from their underground nests as soon as March or April. This early in the year wildflowers are often in short supply, providing limited pollen and nectar that the bees rely upon. One plant that is available to them as early as April is golden ragwort (Packera aurea, Asteraceae). Mining bees not only feed on their pollen and nectar, they also collect these resources to provision their subterranean nests. Once their larvae hatch they feed upon these stores, growing and pupating over the winter before emerging the following spring as the next generation of adults.

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