Monday, 27 May 2013

Red Mason Bee Cleptoparasite - Sapyga quinquepunctata

Sapyga quinquepunctata - Carlton Notts 27th May 2013
One of the joys of providing a home for Red Mason Bees is not just the Bees themselves but the way they attract several species of parasite.  One such is the Solitary wasp Sapyga quinquepunctata, the quinquepunctata probably referring to the spotting on the tergites. This fine looking wasp lay their eggs in the in the nest cell of the mason bee.  The larvae then feed, not on the bee larvae but on the stored pollen and nectar. It isn't a true parasite but a Cleptoparasite  as the wasp larvae steals the bee larvaes food resource rather than attack the bee larvae directly. At present I have about three of these chaps hanging around my Mason Bees.  Having observed them for a couple of years now its quite clear that they don't come out for very long each day.  They often take up position in an unoccupied hole with just their head and antennae sticking out.  Then usually about mid afternoon they go looking for bee nests under construction.  The attached photograph show a female leaving a mason bee's hole.  I'm presuming it has just done the deed and deposited an egg in the cell before the bee seals it up.  

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