Data from: Bees without flowers: before peak bloom, diverse native bees find insect-produced honeydew sugars
Meiners, Joan M.; Griswold, Terry L.; Harris, David J.; Ernest, S. K. Morgan (2017), Data from: Bees without flowers: before peak bloom, diverse native bees find insect-produced honeydew sugars, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.00t8g
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-two 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 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 an interspecific foraging network among solitary bees that may influence how native bees cope with scarcity of floral resources and increasing environmental change.