Host plant recognition by pollen-foraging bees

Solitary bees are important pollinators of flowers. Besides nectar they collect pollen at flowers mainly to provide their larvae with food. Many bee species collect pollen only on a few closely related plant species (oligolecty). Little is known about the visual and olfactorial signals they use for host plant finding and host plant recognition.  It was shown that naïve oligolectic bees recognize their host-plant on the basis of pollen volatiles and that flower-experienced bees could use pollen odours to assess pollen availability. In several bee species, we investigate the role of floral cues for host plant recognition. Using chemoecological methods, our aim is to identify floral compounds with a function in pollinator attraction and host plant recognition. Furthermore, we are interested in understanding the mechanisms of the olfactory code and possible adaptations of the antennal lobe for the perception of floral compounds.

Collaborations: Stefan Dötterl (University of Bayreuth), Stefan Schulz (University of Braunschweig), Giovanni Galizia and Hannah Burger (both University of Konstanz), Paulo Milet-Pinheiro  (Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil)

Funding: DFG

Osmia adunca and its host plant Echium vulgare
Osmia adunca and its host plant Echium vulgare (Photo H. Burger)