Relocation to novel nests (sometimes called drifting) in flying Hymenoptera is often interpreted as the result of navigation error and guard bees erroneously admitting foreign individuals into the nest. We studied nest fidelity and nest relocation of both females and males in a nesting aggregation of Xylocopa virginica in southern Ontario, Canada, where females can nest either solitarily or socially. Adult female and male bees were trapped at nest entrances, individually paint marked, and then released. Subsequent recapture patterns were used to assess nest fidelity: that is, how faithful individuals were to their home nest and how often they moved to another nest. Bees were considered to have relocated if they were recaptured in a nest different from the one in which they were initially trapped, indicating that they had spent at least one night in a new nest. Some females were only captured in one nest, some occasionally moved to new nests, temporarily or permanently, and a few were never caught in the same nest twice. In addition, females relocated to nests that were further away in 2007 when population density was low, suggesting that they seek out and claim nesting spaces when they are available. Males relocated more frequently than females, with most drifting from nest to nest in no obvious pattern. This indicates that males spend the night wherever space is available or in nests nearest to their territories. This study reveals that for both female and male X. virginica, nest membership is not as stable as once thought.
- X. virginica