Oh boy do I have a great bee for you today! I was pretty excited to learn about this one.
She’s got legs for miles…which is another way of saying she is pretty attractive, right?
This species represents a group of bees from South Africa (which has most of the coolest bees, I must say), specifically Namaqualand. According to the Natural History Museum blurb, those forelegs are longer than the rest of the body and are used to collect oils from flowers of the genus Diascia (twinspur).
Oil collecting bees are interesting enough to merit their own post, but in this case at least, the oil is used in place of nectar to make a pollen ball for the offspring.
There are 22 species of Rediviva listed on Wikipedia, but no photos or further information on the genus page, which makes me think it is a mysterious and interesting interaction that warrants further research!
The coevolutionary arms* race between Diascia longicornis and Rediviva emdeorum has resulted in the plant’s unusually long corolla (25 mm) and the bee’s matching front legs. There is pretty strong evidence to suggest that this interaction has led to cospeciation in the past, and is in the process of driving new speciation, for example, between populations of Redivivia neliana with differing front leg lengths. It is a situation reminiscent of Darwin’s amazing hawkmoth with a 43 cm proboscis.
Ah, sweet, sweet coevolution.
Some Diascia have been domesticated for usage in gardens…let me know if you have one in your garden!