Rare bee discovered in Northern Wis., last spotted in 1910

National

LAKEWOOD, Wis. (WFRV) — A rare bee has been discovered in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service scientists say they recently discovered Epeoloides pilosulus – one of the rarest bees in North America.

Scientists were surveying bees as part of a Great Lakes Native Bee Inventory project funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) when two male Epeoloides pilosulus were captured at Chickadee Barrens in mid-July.

A third male bee was captured the next day.

All three bees were netted off black-eyed Susan plants blooming along roadsides in the Forest.

These are the first confirmed records of one of the rarest bees in North America being in Wisconsin since 1910 when it was found in Dane County.

The US Department of Agriculture says this species is a cleptoparasite of a particular genus of bees – Macropis – which specialize in collecting floral oils and pollen from plants in the Lysimachia genus. Plants such as creeping jenny and yellow loosestrife are members of this genus.

The agency says abundant Lysimachia plants potentially indicate the presence of Macropis bees which, in turn, would provide evidence of this cuckoo bee.

This species was thought to be extinct due to lack of observations until 2002 when Epeoloides pilosulus was rediscovered in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Since 2017, the Chequamegon-Nicolet has been inventorying native bees across the Forest using funds from GLRI. This project has been occurring across the six national forests within the Great Lakes Basin. The bee sampling protocol and identification to species has been aided by David King of the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station and Joan Milam.

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