Sunday, 4 December 2016

The Mysterious Sex Lives of Hawaii's Endangered Yellow-Faced Bees

In late September 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) added seven of Hawaii's yellow-faced bee species to the Endangered Species List — the first time any bee has been declared endangered. What do we know about their sex lives and could this information be the key to saving these rare bees?

In Hawaii, there are more than 60 species of yellow-faced bee (genus Hylaeus), a solitary type of bee that lives in a wide range of habitats, from coastal areas to high-elevation forests. These bees are the primary pollinators of a common Hawaii shrub called naupaka, which blooms half-flowers and is the focus of a Hawaiian story about star-crossed lovers who are fated to be forever separated.

Though scientists have long been aware of the bees and their importance, "there's virtually nothing known about the mating behaviors of yellow-faced bees," said Sheldon Plentovich, the Pacific Islands Coastal Program Coordinator for USFWS.

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