Skip to Main Content
ajax loader animation

Discovery of Rare Bee Species in Con Edison's Transmission Right-of-Way Creates a Buzz

Nomada Electella Recorded for the First Time in New York State

Rare bee species are foraging on native shrubs and wildflowers growing along Con Edison transmission lines according to biologists from the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF).

Biologists’ most exciting discovery to date is a male Nomada electella, a species that had never been recorded in New York.

“The discovery of regionally rare bee species on transmission corridors is incredibly important for pollinator conservation,” said Molly Jacobson, native pollinator ecologist, SUNY-ESF. “These rare bees rely on very specific resources, like certain flowers, soils, or particular hosts (in the case of parasitic bees), which have become scarce in the northeast due to reforestation and development of these sandy, open or shrubby habitats.”

Jacobson continued, “Seeing so many of these rare bees thrive in rights-of-way tells us that the vegetation management used to keep transmission corridors open is maintaining the critical habitat they need. Every new population of these bees researchers can find and study contributes; to our understanding of them, and how we can best protect them and the unique roles they play in their ecosystems.”

The Nomada electella, native to the United States, was first identified in 1903. Until 2014, no male Nomada electella had been documented.

Nomada electella is a kind of cuckoo bee. They are nest parasites, meaning that they lay their eggs in the nests of other bee species instead of making their own. The host of Nomada electella is still unknown, making each sighting of this bee valuable to answering the question of why it is so rare.

“This work is part of the multi-pronged approach Con Edison is using to fight climate change and build a clean energy future,” said Venetia Lannon, Con Edison’s vice president, Environment, Health and Safety. “This discovery is the result of the first year of our exciting partnership with the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Together we are creating a biodiversity inventory to better understand and improve the ecosystems that help all living things thrive and flourish.”

Biologists from ESF have also identified a number of rare bee species along Con Edison transmission lines, including the blunthorn bees Melitta eickworti (a deerberry specialist), Melitta melittoides (a maleberry specialist), the loosestrife oil bee Macropis ciliata, and the oil bees even rarer nest parasite Epeoloides pilosulus.

Last year Con Edison and Orange and Rockland, Utilities created a partnership with the State University of New York’s College of ESF as part of its Strategic Action Plan on Biodiversity. The plan which was updated this year, expands the companies’ commitment to enhance the diversity of plant, insect and animal life on the more than 8,000 acres of property it owns and maintains.

Join Con Edison and EPRI for this year’s Pollinator Party. It is a virtual celebration of pollinators happening during National Pollinator Week from June 17 to June 21.

Con Edison is a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc. [NYSE: ED], one of the nation’s largest investor-owned energy companies, with approximately $15 billion in annual revenues and $67 billion in assets. The utility delivers electricity, natural gas and steam, and serves 3.7 million customers in New York City and Westchester County.