Science Friday is on the Hunt for Desert Bees

Wild bee burrowing into a barrel cactus bloom. Photo by Christopher Intagliata. by Christopher Intagliata, on April 4, 2017

During our recent Science Friday segment about springtime wildflower blooms, UC Riverside bee biologist Hollis Woodard talked about the wild desert bees that profit from this year’s abundant flowers. While she was on, she shared some awesome bee lore: like the fact that deserts are actually bee biodiversity hotspots; that the majority of bees are solitary and live underground; and that one desert-dwelling bee, Centris rhodopus, has a really weird diet: it collects oil from the fuschia flowers of the Krameria bicolor bush to feed its larvae. That unusual relationship between the Centris bees and Krameria was first characterized in the 1970s by a couple of bee science giants, the husband-and-wife team of Jack Neff and Beryl Simpson.