Attracting Orchid Bees

aad

A large part of what my lab does is chemical ecology of insects.  We study the chemicals that mediate communication, defense, and foraging of all kinds of insects.

Orchid bees are amazingly beautiful insects, often iridecent or boldly striped. The males of these bees are attracted to strong scents, and they reputedly use these to gather up a group of other males, presumably to display to females.

Knowing this, on every field trip to the jungle, I have brought along cotton dental wicks and clove oil. These would serve well should we need to numb a broken tooth in an emergency, but the main purpose was to attract orchid bees.

Watch closely in the video as this male Eufriesea ornata gathers clove oil with his forelegs, transfers it to his midlegs, and finally tucks the fluid into special spongy tissues in his hind tibiae.

[flickr video=5760254337 secret=9a84f7ed86 w=700 h=394]

Orchid bees don’t only collect nice smelling scents… They are also attracted to foul smelling substances such as carrion and feces.

5936053948_2289b83fae_b

A male orchid bee gathers feces.
Canon 60D, EF 50 mm macro, f13, undiffused flash from MR14EX macro ring light.

aaaa

A Robber Fly gets in on that Orchid Bee Look which is so hot right now. Canon 60D EF 70-300 IS. 1/60s F8

These filthy little bastards are beautiful and fun to watch however, so my advice is this:

Next time you go to the Neotropics (south Florida included), bring some methyl salicylcate, clove oil, or cineole and attract those bees!

Euglossa orchid bees are smaller and metallic green…Also a good look.
Canon Powershot S2IS, Raynox DCR250, foam bowl flash diffuser

References:

1. PHYLOGENY AND BIOLOGY OF NEOTROPICAL
ORCHID BEES (EUGLOSSINI)Annu. Rev. Entomol. 2004. 49:377–404

doi: 10.1146/annurev.ento.49.072103.115855

2. ORCHID BEES DON’T NEED ORCHIDS: EVIDENCE FROM THE
NATURALIZATION OF AN ORCHID BEE IN FLORIDA

Ecology, 87(8), 2006, pp. 1995–2001
 2006

 

2 thoughts on “Attracting Orchid Bees

Comments are closed.