Mass-length Relationships for 3 Bee Species in Northwest Ohio

Justin D. Burdine, Erin Plummer, Melissa Seidel, Kevin E. McCluney


The ability to accurately estimate bee mass through measurements of intertegular distance (ITD) is an important tool for field biologists. ITD is the distance between the bases of the 2 wing tegulae on the bee’s thorax. However, the relationship between ITD and bee mass can vary based on species and sampling region. A collection of 92 bees—representing 3 species—was examined to assess the accuracy of ITD in estimating dry mass for bees in northwest Ohio.  The focus was on 3 species: silky striped sweat bees (Agapostemon sericeus), honey bees (Apis mellifera), and common eastern bumble bees (Bombus impatiens).  Overall, there was a positive correlation between ITD and dry mass across all individuals sampled (R2 = 0.77), but within species the degree of correlation varied significantly. The results suggest that ITD accurately estimates dry mass in silky striped sweat bees (R2 = 0.93), but the correlation weakens in common eastern bumble bees (R2 = 0.54) and is non-existent in honey bees (R2 = 0.39). Field biologists interested in using ITD to estimate bee mass should take preliminary measurements when investigating bumble bees, and should avoid ITD estimates in honey bees.


bees; intertegular distance; mass-length relationships; pollinators

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Copyright (c) 2018 Justin D. Burdine, Erin Plummer, Melissa Seidel, Kevin E. McCluney

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ISSN: 2471-9390 (Online); 0030-0950 (Print)