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Valuable cargo

003_Fotolab_Tetrapedia_spWhen visiting flowers, solitary bees of the genus Tetrapedia are not looking only for pollen.  They are specialized in collecting floral oil, which they carry in the bristles of paw structures known as scopes and use to feed their larvae and build their nest. “Most of the time they collect oil as well as pollen, which is mixed together as they fly,” says ecologist Paula Montagnana. Her doctoral dissertation is a study of the effects of the forest canopy on the abundance of these bees in the Cantareira Forest, north of the city of São Paulo. “The forest is important for supplying both food as well as cavities for nests.”  Unlike the well-known hives built by the social bees, these solitary bees make use of hollows in tree trunks and branches.

Photo by Rafael Souza Cruz Alves submitted by Paula Montagnana, doctoral candidate on the Ribeirão Preto Campus of the University of São Paulo (USP)