Code and data for paper in The American Naturalist on bees without flowers: honeydew foraging
Open Access paper here: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/692437
Code and data are citable using doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.162054
Project abstract: Bee foragers respond to complex visual, olfactory, and extrasensory cues to optimize searches for floral rewards. Their abilities to detect and distinguish floral colors, shapes, volatiles, and ultraviolet signals, and even gauge nectar availability from changes in floral humidity or electric fields are well studied. Bee foraging behaviors in the absence of floral cues, however, are rarely considered. We observed forty-four species of wild bees visiting inconspicuous, non-flowering shrubs during early spring in a protected, Mediterranean habitat. We determined experimentally that these bees were accessing sugary honeydew secretions from scale insects without the aid of standard cues. While honeydew use is known among some social Hymenoptera, its use across a diverse community of mostly solitary bees is a novel observation. The widespread ability of native bees to locate and use unadvertised, non-floral sugars suggests unappreciated sensory mechanisms and/or the existence of a social foraging network among solitary bees that may influence how native bee communities cope with increasing environmental change.