Tuesday October 13

7:30 PM

Comparative biology of Ceratina small carpenter bees: What early insect societies can tell us about the evolution of sociality

MCZ 101, 26 Oxford Street, Harvard University

Sandra Rehan
Assistant Professor, University of New Hampshire


The small carpenter bees, genus Ceratina, offer important insights into the early stages of social group formation. Small carpenter bees provide a unique opportunity to study the evolution and maintenance of social behavior in a group benefitting from detailed life history studies and a well-established phylogeny. Ceratina are globally-distributed and species range from solitary to complex societies; solitary species are typically found in temperate environments and social groups are recurrent in tropical regions. My data highlight the importance of molecular phylogeny and historical biogeography for understanding the relative roles of phylogenetic inertia and regional ecology on the evolution of social behavior. Moreover, maternal care is a key precursor for the evolution of eusociality. Maternal investment is often determined, in part, by the quality and quantity of food provided to the offspring. Such maternal manipulation of nutrients, during development in particular, can influence the activation of hormones, nutrient storage, and social interactions of offspring once development is complete. The small carpenter bee, Ceratina calcarata, is native to New England and this species is of special interest because of its prolonged maternal care and mothers who produce a special class of small daughters that help raise their siblings. I examine nutritional, developmental and behavioral variation among offspring to determine the role of maternal manipulation and social environment on offspring care and worker behavior in incipient insect societies.

The talk is free and open to the public. The meeting is readily accessible via public transportation. Parking is available in the Oxford Street Garage with advance arrangement, as described here, or (usually but not always) at spaces on nearby streets. Everyone is also welcome to join us for dinner before the talk (beginning at 5:45 PM) at the West Side Lounge, 1680 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge.

CEC meetings are held the second Tuesday of the month from October through May. The evening schedule typically includes an informal dinner (5:45 to 7:15 PM) followed by our formal meeting (7:30 – 9:00 PM). The latter begins with club business and is followed by a 50 minute entomology related presentation. Membership is open to amateur and professional entomologists.

Hi everyone,

As announced in our last meeting in May, Scott Smyers organized two field trips for the club this summer. Here goes information about them (also posted on the CEC facebook page). The first one is going to happen this Saturday.

June 27, 1pm, Long Lake Park, Littleton, MA
Park on Harwood Ave. as directed on this link:

August 8, 1 pm, Wachusett Mountain State Reservation, Princeton, MA
Cosponsored by the Friends of Wachusett
Exact Meeting Location TBD, but details will be posted at:

I hope to see you there!