A solitary pollinator which is highly flexible when it comes to where to build its nests has been named Wild Bee of the Month by experts in Germany to emphasise its precarious situation.
The Melitta leporina is one of the 600 solitary bee species which exist in Germany. The bee builds its subterranean nests on wasteland, in sandy soils and flowery meadows. Scientists have found that the insect even settles alongside streets and railroad tracks.
Researchers warn that the species was under immense threat of extinction in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein. They are also concerned whether the Melitta leporina would continue to exist in North Rhine-Westphalia, Thuringia and Lower Saxony, the Bienen Journal magazine reports.
This is why the Foundation for Mankind and Nature (Stiftung für Mensch und Umwelt) opted for this kind of solitary bee to become its Bee of the Month in December.
Lucerne, a perennial plant also known as alfalfa, is the preferred food of bees belonging to the Melitta genus. Melitta leporina bees reach a body length of 11 to 13 millimetres.
The insect, which strongly depends on cultivated pastures, was discovered and studied by German botanist Georg Wolfgang Franz Panzer in 1799. Apart from Melitta leporina, Germany is the habitat of five further Melitta species.