Dr. Sarah Lawson on PolliNation with Andony Melathopoulos

We are starting a new series to help expand our understanding of the amazing diversity in the bee genera of the Pacific Northwest. This week, we are focusing on the small carpenter bee from the genus Ceratina with Dr. Sarah Lawson, who is a lecturer in the Department of Biology at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. Dr. Lawson talks about research she did in the Sandra Rehan lab at the University of New Hampshire on the evolution of social behavior in bees using Ceratina as a model. In this episode, we learn all about the life cycle of Ceratina, and its peculiar strategy of turning the firstborn female into underfed dwarf female who acts as a nursemaid to the other bees in the nest (i.e., a Cinderella daughter).

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“Ceratina is a bee on the brink of sociality.” – Dr. Sarah Lawson

Show Notes:

  • What kinds of bees are part of the genus Ceratina
  • What separates the carpenter ants from these carpenter bees
  • The regular life-cycle of the Ceratina carpenter bee
  • What makes certain bees sociable and others not as sociable
  • What separates Ceratina from other solitary bees
  • Why the mother makes a “Cinderella daughter” for the nest
  • How different female bees work alongside each other in the nest
  • What Sarah and other researchers have learned from studying the larval food of Ceratina bees
  • How nutrition and the way it is dispersed affects the roles the Ceratina bees play
  • What opportunities unexplored bee species give us in researching them

“The mother is able to coerce the dwarf eldest daughter into doing all the cleaning, sometimes she’ll forage, sometimes she’ll guard the nest. We kind of think of her as the Cinderella daughter for the nest.” – Dr. Sarah Lawson

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