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We present a new county checklist developed from bee research in Maine since the 1800s. The list contains 278 bee species in 37 genera and 6 families, of which all but 8 are native, with ≥50 taxa each in Andrena and Lasioglossum. Data for 16 counties from publications, museum collections, and recent surveys varied in number of species from 8 (Androscoggin) to 197 (Hancock). Research since 1930 on Vaccinium angustifolium (Lowbush Blueberry) led to many records. Twenty-one species are considered unusual, including 3 first recorded in 2016: Epeoloides pilosulus, Melitta melittoides, and Holcopasitescalliopsidis. Maine records provide evidence of declines in Bombus affinis, decline in B. terricola followed by partial recovery, and increase in B. impatiens. Crops that should be studied regarding associated bees are Malus pumila (Apple), Vaccinium corymbosum (Highbush Blueberry), Vaccinium macrocarpon (American Cranberry), and Curcurbitaceae (cucurbits). Montane, sandy, and island habitats were identified as priorities for future sampling. We discuss records of bee species from New England relevant to understanding the Maine fauna, bee diversity, changes in abundance, cleptoparasitism, pesticide impacts, habitat requirements, and climate change.
More than 120 native bee species have been documented in Maine since 1930 in association with the native plant Vaccinium angustifolium (Lowbush Blueberry). We report 3 studies in commercial Lowbush Blueberry fields: (1) a survey of diversity in Osmia (mason bees) and closely related Megachile (leaf-cutter bees) using trap nests in 93 fields from 1990 to 2012, (2) a 29-year study of a native bee community, and (3) an examination of climate-change effects on bee-foraging periods during blueberry bloom. Osmia appeared to be more stable over a 22- year period in their species richness and relative abundances in Lowbush Blueberry fields when compared to Megachile over a similar 17-year period. The native bee community in a single location in Winterport was observed to fluctuate in abundance 2 to 3 times annually. Modeling of the total bee community and taxa-specific group abundances (Bombus, Megachilids, Andrenids, and Halictids and other bees) suggest that while stochastic density-independent processes such as weather can play a role in determining their annual oscillations, density-dependent lags of 1 and 2 years appear to be the main driving forces. Estimation of fruit set over the same 29-year period, based upon native bee abundance, suggests that pollination is more buffered than community bee abundance, resulting in a lesser degree of fluctuation over time. We speculate that this finding is due to redundancy in floral preferences, multiple floral visitations, and differing pollination efficiencies by the highly diverse native bee community associated with Lowbush Blueberry. Effects of climate change in Maine Lowbush Blueberry fields during May bloom was investigated using a historic weather database. Since the early 1990s, precipitation has, to a large degree, reduced the number of optimal bee foraging days during bloom, with implications for pollination and bee species abundances. This new information reinforces the need for provision of pollinator gardens to support native pollinators of Lowbush Blueberry.