Tuesday 10 July 2012

New species of Leafcutter Bee from Saudi Arabia.

Leafcutter Bees (Megachilidae) are a group of solitary Bees that get their name for their habit of building nests from neatly cut sections of leaf, rather than pulp made from chewed leaves or wood, although not all members of the group actually do this. Leafcutter Bees of the Genus Chalicodoma build nests of plant resin in hollow twigs or holes in the ground.

In a paper published in the journal ZooKeys on 25 June 2012, a team of scientists led by Abdulaziz  Alqarni of the Department of Plant Protection at the College of Food and Agriculture Sciences at King Saud University describe a new species of Leafcutter Bee in the Genus Chalicodoma from Al Amariah in Riyadh Province, Saudi Arabia.

The new Bee is placed in the subgenus Pseudomegachile, and is given the specific name riyadhense (from Riyadh). Chalicodoma (Pseudomegachile) riyadhense is a reddish brown 10-12 mm Bee with distinctive facial setae (bristles) used to collect pollen. This is known from other Bees and Wasps, but this is only the second time it has been seen in a species of Chalicodoma, and the first time outside of Europe.

Chalicodoma (Pseudomegachileriyadhense. Female (top) and male (bottom). Alqarni et al. (2012).

Chalicodoma (Pseudomegachileriyadhense was found foraging on a single plant, Blepharis ciliaris, a prickly perennial herb known locally as 'Saha' or 'Naqie'. This is known to be a producer of abundant nectar, with local beekeepers sometimes marketing 'Saha honey'.

Blepharis ciliaris, known locally as 'Saha' or 'Naqie', the nectar-rich perennial herb upon which Chalicodoma (Pseudomegachileriyadhense was found foraging. Alqarni et al. (2012).

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