Male bees can be abundant at flowers, particularly floral hosts of those bee species whose females are taxonomic pollen specialists (oligolecty). Contributions of male bees to host pollination are rarely studied directly despite their prevalence in a number of pollination guilds, including those of some crop plants. In this study, males of the oligolectic bee, Peponapis pruinosa Say, were shown to be effective pollinators of summer squash, Cucurbita pepo L. Seven sequential visits from male P. pruinosa maximized squash fruit set and growth. This number of male visits accumulated during the first hour of their foraging and mate searching at flowers soon after sunrise. Pollination efficacy of male P. pruinosa and their abundances at squash flowers were sufficient to account for most summer squash production at our study sites, and by extrapolation, to two-thirds of all 87 North American farms and market gardens growing squashes that were surveyed for pollinators by collaborators in the Squash Pollinators of the Americas Survey. We posit that the substantial pollination value of male Peponapis bees is a consequence of their species' oligolecty, their mate seeking strategy, and some extreme traits of Cucurbita flowers (massive rewards, flower size, phenology).
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