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SOME OBSERVATIONS ON THE LIFE AND HABITS OF THE SOLITARY BEE Colletes daviesana S M I T H These notes were made during the month of August and September of 1953 and 1954 at Fornham Park, Bury St. Edmunds. Some 300 nests were situated in the compact soil between the roots of an upturned beech tree, each in its entirety was the work of a single female. The bees excavate their nests by digging into the soil; these were seldom more than three inches deep usually composed of a series of two, rarely three cells. T h e cells were made by lining the burrows to the extent necessary for each cell with a gelatinous secretion in appearance much like cellophane and capably holding liquids. The cells were sealed with the same material and being concave fitted into each other and were not easily separated. The stored cells were about threeparts filled with a mixture of pollen and honey. The egg was fixed to the inside of the translucent cell: the larva at first remained attached to the cell wall, protruding like a thin piece of stiff wire ; its length allowed it to feed upon the stored honey without falling in and becoming drowned. When sufficiently developed it became detached and wallowed in the remainder of the food supply. The cocoons were constructed of a wax-like substance, and the ends from which they had emerged appeared to have been largely eaten by the emerging bees. These small bees were most beautiful when returning laden with the yellow pollen, which they collected mostly from the flowers of ragwort, Senecio jacobaea L. They were parasitized by the fly Miltogramma punctatum Mg., and by the parasitic bee Epeolus productus Thoms. The flies were abundant, at times as many as three followed a single bee, but only one would enter the nest-hole. When following the intended victim their movements were cunning and quick, alighting close behind the bee as it entered its nest-hole, waiting outside for a few seconds before following, presumably for oviposition, reappearing after a few seconds : the bee remaining inside for a longer period. Specimens of these flies were occasionally taken as they were leaving the nest-hole, and only about one in five survived an hour. Specimens taken before entering survived for a longer period. The movements of the homeless bee Epeolus productus were leisurely ; it never followed its victim but loitered around the nest-hole and entered it at leisure, to deposit its egg after its host had left. The bees did not seem unduly disturbed by the presence of the flies, but often vigorously attacked the homeless bees. HENRY J .


Life and Habits of the Solitary Bee  
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