Bees are often considered to be effective pollinators in both agricultural and natural ecosystems, but could be ‘ugly’ pollinators in that they collect large quantities of pollen for food provision but deliver little to stigmas. Male bees do not collect pollen to feed larvae, and their pollination role has been underappreciated. Here we compare pollination transfer efficiency and effectiveness between female and male individuals of a mining bee, Andrena emeishanica, visiting a nectariferous spring flower (Epimedium pubescens). Female bees were observed to forage for both pollen and nectar, but male bees foraged only for nectar. Female bees had large hairy hind tibiae with conspicuous scopae, and nearly 90% of the pollen grains they collected went onto the hind legs. Male bees removed less pollen from anthers than female bees but deposited more pollen on stigmas per visit. The higher pollen transfer efficiency of male bees was due to 48.4% of pollen grains remaining ungroomed on the thorax and abdomen, available for stigma contact, but their visitation rate to flowers was much lower. Our results indicate that male solitary bees could be more efficient than females (more pollen transfer per visit), but less effective (less pollen transfer in total, because fewer visits per unit time).
Original dataset for a manuscript entitled “Pollinator effectiveness and importance between female and male mining bee (Andrena)”, coauthored by Ju Tang, Qiu-Mei Quan, Jing-Zhu Chen, Ting Wu and Shuang-Quan Huang.
There are four tables in the Excel file, presenting raw data of pollen placement on different parts if the bee body, pollen removal and deposition by a single visit of the female or male bee, bee visits at different time of days, and trait measurements for female and male bees.
National Science Foundation, Award: National Science Foundation of China (grant no. 31730012)
National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 31730012