By Eunice Blavascunas and Alie J. Zagata
On the Swedish island of Öland in the Baltic Sea, a fascinating little creature is rapidly disappearing. Chelostoma rapunculi, also known as the scissor bee, is a European solitary bee species. What makes it so interesting is the fact that it is oligolectic: this fussy bee relies on only one species of plant for its pollen and nectar. Scissor bees are bellflower specialists, meaning they seek food only from bellflower species (Campanula) during their flight season in June and July. On Öland, bellflowers grow primarily in ditches and hedgerows along fields and roadsides. Female scissor bees build their nests above ground in premade beetle holes in old barns, fences, and railings. They therefore depend on humans for their nesting sites.
Heidi E. M. Dobson, Spencer F. Baird professor of the Department of Biology at Whitman College, conducts fieldwork on the behavior of wild bees at the Station Linné on the island of Öland. Read our interview with her in tomorrow’s installment.