Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Use of wooden nest boxes by the solitary bee Megachile pseudanthidioides in secondary woodland on Santa Catarina Island, Brazil

Published source details

Zillikens A. & Steiner J. (2004) Nest architecture, life cycle and cleptoparasite of the Neotropical leaf-cutting bee Megachile (Chrysosarus) pseudanthidioides Moure (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, 77, 193-202


The diversity of wild bees is declining in Europe and America and there is widespread concern about their status. This study put out different types of nest box for leafcutter bees (Megachilidae) at two sites on Santa Catarina Island, Brazil. Its results inform the provision of nest boxes to enhance the reproductive success of leafcutter bees.


Nest boxes were distributed in two areas of secondary forest near Santo Antônio de Lisboa, Santa Catarina Island, Brazil.
Three types of nest box were used. Hardwood blocks drilled with 7 cm long holes, with diameters of 4, 5, 7, 11 and 12 mm, were fixed to trees 1.5-1.7 m above the ground on 26 September 2000 at the Santo Antônio de Lisboa site. Hardwood boxes 10 x 10 x 5 cm (internal volume) with a 10 mm entrance hole were exposed at both sites from 4 December 2000. Finally, sections of bamboo cane 5-25 mm in diameter, 15-25 cm in length were distributed in October 2001 and 2002. No information is given about how many nest boxes were deployed. Nest boxes were inspected at least every eight weeks, and weekly in spring 2002. Those containing completed nests were transferred to the laboratory and kept under outdoor temperature and humidity conditions until occupants emerged.


A total of 14 nests of Megachile pseudanthidioides were collected. Six were in 11 or 12 mm holes in two drilled blocks. Seven were in wooden boxes, one was in a 10 mm diameter bamboo cane. Three other wooden boxes showed early signs of leafcutter bee activity (cut leaves and mud), and brood cells of an orchid bee (Euglossini). In the boxes, where there was free open space, cell series were constructed in free-standing tunnels of mud and leaves. 39 adult M. pseudanthidioides emerged from the nests, and six were found dead inside cells. Seven adults of the brood parasite Coelioxys tepaneca emerged from three of the nests.
The study shows that wooden boxes, drilled wooden blocks and bamboo stems all have potential to provide artificial nest sites for M. pseudanthidioides and perhaps for other leafcutter species.
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