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Alkali bee facts for kids

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Alkali bee
3-Sancassania boharti on Nomia melanderi BMOC 96-0916-059.jpg
Male bee. The lower frame is a blow-up of the small rectangle in the upper frame, showing a Zodion obliquefasciatum parasitizing him.
Scientific classification
Genus:
Nomia
Species:
melanderi

The alkali bee, Nomia melanderi, is a ground-nesting bee native to deserts and semi-arid desert basins of the western United States. It was described by Theodore Dru Alison Cockerell in 1906.

This bee nests in salt-saturated, or alkaline, soil. Like some other bees such as Megachile rotundata, alkali bees are an effective pollinator of alfalfa. The bee uses a specialized technique of opening alfalfa flowers for pollination by applying pressure to snap open the keel of the flower. Due to the unusual nesting habits of this bee, farmers have developed methods to accommodate them with salty mud-fields where they can burrow and lay their eggs. Farmers started doing this after realizing that plowing up natural flats like these decreased the yield of alfalfa dramatically.

It is preyed upon by the conopid fly Zodion obliquefasciatum.

Juvenile hormone (JH) analog methoprene can serve as a possible limiting factor for alkali bees since female bees are more likely to reach reproductive maturity with JH. Alkali bees are also considered solitary bees because females have their individual nests and live alongside other female alkali bees.


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