September Bee Update – Lasio Progress, September Bees, and New Cabinets!

This was the status of all that was left of our “easy” Lasioglossum on the 14th of September! We made it through the rest by the next day!

Bring out the kazoos! I made it through the 22,000 Lasioglossum, identifying what I could and setting aside the hardest ones for later. From that large hoard of bees, I was able to confidently identify about 18,000 of them to species! It helps that a large chunk of them were either Lasioglossum versatum or L. hitchensi. There are about 2,000 of the hardest Lasioglossum specimens left, which I will go back through later once I get more experience in these remaining tricky groups. About a quarter of those specimens are males, which I will likely lump as Lasioglossum sp. and call it a day. There were also a decent number of them that had lost heads or otherwise damaged during the washing and pinning process, so that group of bees were also left as Lasioglossum sp. and noted as damaged in the notes.


Now what?
We still have a few remaining groups from the 2020 bee bowls to identify. These include 193 Megachile, 159 Sphecodes, 325 Nomada, and 240 Osmia. Although they are lower numbers in comparison to the Lasioglossum, there will be a learning curve to properly identify them. So they will still take some time to get familiar with the different species. It also does not help that there are not as many recent publications on Sphecodes and Nomada, so those will be tricky to get through.

I reorganized the shelves to show the bulk of what is left to do in terms of ID for the 2020 bowl survey. We have 9 boxes of extra hard Lasioglossum, 2 boxes of Megachile, 1 box of Sphecodes, and 3 boxes of the non-bidentate Nomada.

Specialist bee project:

2021 specimens – We have a little over 1,900 specimens from the 2021 sampling. These still need identified, so once I make it through some of the bee bowl specimens, I will go back through and work on specialist bee samples.

2022 specimens – sampling is ongoing! September is still time for cool weird things like Pseudopanurgus and fall flying Andrena. So on nice days I will be doing field work and processing specimens from this summer. For those who are participating in the project, please work on getting them to me soon. I will be sending out emails to participants of the specialist project for specimen turn in logistics.


Other lab updates:

We have new cabinets! And they are in the lab!

It took a while for the new cabinets to be delivered to our building, but we have them and now have an assortment of colors! The 3 white ones are the new additions.

Inside each cabinet are 12 USNM drawers that will store the specimens that will go on to be archived at a museum. We are slowly having students transfer the identified specimens into the drawers for safekeeping. We also have many more drawers than will fit in the cabinets, as the drawers will be given to the museum (but the cabinets will stay in this lab).

All for now,

MaLisa

August Bee Update – Sandy Bees!

Hi everyone,

We have made good progress over the last few weeks. The number of remaining Lasioglossum boxes continue to dwindle. We started with over 22,000 Lasioglossum in March and are now down to under 8,000 Lasioglossum remaining! This can be visually represented by our Lasioglossum rack, which we entirely cleared and then refilled with the last remaining boxes of Lasioglossum. So what you see is what we have left to do.

Our progress as of the end of July. We had another rack with more Lasioglossum, so these got moved up.

We moved all the remaining Lasioglossum to this shelf, so you can now watch the remaining progress. These were moved at the end of July.

Our most recent progress showing all the boxes of remaining Lasioglossum on the bottom


I had also given the Hylaeus bees to the grad students to identify. With a little over 1,300 specimens, they made quick work of identifying them! Now to have those transferred into drawers for long term storage.

Example photo showing a female Hylaeus. These black and yellow bees look like tiny wasps. They carry pollen inside of their stomach and thus lack the normal pollen collecting hairs of other bees. These bees are easily overlooked by beginning bee enthusiasts, but we found many in our bowl traps.


We also ordered a shipment of drawers and cabinets to store our bees. The pizza boxes were always meant to be short term storage, so it is nice to have an additional 50 drawers for better long term storage! It took a bit, but our pallet of drawers was delivered to Columbus and is now awaiting transfer to the Newark campus.

3 cabinets and 50 USNM drawers all packed onto a single pallet from Canada!

I’m excited for the drawers, as these are what we will use to turn specimens in to the museum for long term archival. They are lightweight, sturdy, and hopefully keep dermestids out, or at least keep them out better than cardboard pizza boxes.


In between all the Lasioglossum identification, I have been doing periodic field work days. I managed to get a permit to a site with abundant sand, so I was happy to see several bees that are only known to nest in sand. As a quick refresher: 30% of bees nest in cavities, whereas the remaining 70% nest in the soil. Some bees are not picky about their soil type that they will use, but others can be really particular about the exact soil. There are many bees that are only known from sandy habitats and therefore thought to nest in sand. These include a few species of Lasioglossum, which often also have orange abdomens.

I had a few of these orange Lasioglossum checking me out last weekend. I couldn’t tell if they were interested in my sweat or if they were interested in my bright orange backpack. Either way, still nice to see.

There are several other groups of bees that are associated with sand, but that will be a topic for another post. If you happen to have a sandy area near you, it is worth checking out to see what weird bees you can find!

All for now,

MaLisa

 

25 July – Identification progress and weird Lasioglossum nesting aggregation

Hi Everyone,

Once again, the main progress to report is that we have made more headway on the Lasioglossum identification! We still have about 10,000 Lasioglossum specimens that need identified to species, but we have made great progress!


I also made it through my bowl traps that I set in 2020. Interestingly, most people typically have Lasioglossum versatum or hitchensi as the most abundant Lasioglossum in their samples. However, it turns out my sample site was predominantly Lasioglossum apocyni! This is an otherwise uncommon species with limited range, so cool to see that I had so many. Below is a table of the species that were found at my site.

Lasioglossum TBD 12
Lasioglossum apocyni 273
Lasioglossum bruneri 4
Lasioglossum cattellae 1
Lasioglossum coriaceum 5
Lasioglossum cressonii 3
Lasioglossum hitchensi 2
Lasioglossum illinoense 1
Lasioglossum oceanicum 9
Lasioglossum sp 51
Lasioglossum tegulare 3
Lasioglossum versatum 67

The apocyni were the most abundant, which meant there was likely a nesting aggregation right at my sampling transect. So 2 years later, I returned to try to get some photographs of the nests. I wasn’t sure if they would still be there, but lo and behold, they were there and in abundance!

These bare patches of dirt may not look like much, but they are home to a large hoard of Lasioglossum!

It took careful inspection and a little waiting for the bees to start coming out.

The video above shows just how active it was in that tiny patch of dirt! This dirt patch is barely larger than my shoe!

My fingernail for scale showing a nest entrance.

She was cautiously waiting for me to move so she could leave

This species is relatively easy to identify (under a microscope) as they have a gena (cheek) wider than the compound eyes, t1 with an open fan and obvious microsculpture, flat, protruding clypeus, and normal scutum (dense punctures laterally and sparser in the center), and normal propodeum.

Note the very wide gena

I still did not get as good of photos as I would have wanted, but I was able to net several and verify from the specimens that they were all apocyni.

It also appears to be getting close to their peak season. From our 2020 samples, we collected the most of this species in August.

This chart includes all specimens from Ohio that have been identified so far, not just the ones collected at my site

To learn more about this species and their range, see the discoverlife page here:  https://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?search=Lasioglossum+apocyni&guide=Lasioglossum

All for now,

MaLisa

 

June 19 – Bee Survey Updates and some maps

Hello again!

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I have been hard at work on Lasioglossum identification in the lab. We have made good progress over the last few weeks, but still many more to go. We have made a visible dent on the number of Lasioglossum boxes though! Of all the 2020 bees, we have identified ~39,000 to species with ~14,000 bees to go. This will still take several more months since it is the hardest bees that remain.

This is our Lasioglossum shelf progress as of this week! We made it through a row and a half in a month. We have another tower with more Lasioglossum, but still nice to see such visible ID progress.

This was our progress a month ago. A huge difference!


Maps:

Since our dataset is so large thanks to many collectors across the state, we are able to create some very interesting maps for species ranges. We haven’t decided on the final map type yet, but even using some basic mapping software to throw data onto a map leads to interesting results.

4 species in this genus seem to be across most of the state. But look at this species in the same genus:

For some reason, we were much more likely to collect this species in the eastern and southern parts of the state compared to the other common species.

The more maps we make, the more we start to think that some species might be range restricted. This species seems very much restricted to SE Ohio.

Or perhaps this species, which is in a different genus, but seems to not be found in most of SE Ohio.

Meanwhile, there are a few species that were only found at one or two sites, so they will not be easy to draw any conclusions (other than that they are uncommon in Ohio)

 

Anyways, that is all I have to report for now. Back to Lasioglossum ID for me!

-MaLisa

May 23 – Progress Update, Spring in Full Swing

Hi everyone!

I’ve been posting less because I have had fewer interesting things to write and because I have been very busy with the Lasioglossum. I doubt you all would enjoy 5 posts in a row saying just how many Lasioglossum versatum and Lasioglossum hitchensi I identified the prior week. Anyways, we continue to make good progress on the bee bowl specimens. We have finished identifying over 35,000 of the 53,000 bees!  Those 35,000 bees represent over 200 different species of bees. We continue to make progress every week.

Visible Progress: 

Since I am mostly working on Lasioglossum right now, I have been slowly making my way through the Lasioglossum tower in the lab.

Our Lasioglossum tower looked like this in mid-April.

As of las week, we have made it through the top two shelves and started on the middle row!


The importance of cleaning bees:

We can often get away with somewhat bedraggled bees, but many of the harder groups need to be rather clean in order to see the microscopic pits and angles. When a specimen is particularly dirty, despite our washing, I have started to use a small paint brush and a drop of ethanol to gently clean them. For some specimens, I am able to use forceps to scrape away just a portion of the gunk, but others really benefit from that drop of ethanol.

Here you can really start to see the pits on the second segment (t2), which are important for differentiating groups of Dialictus. The first image, it was covered in gunk which made it near impossible to see.


The specialist bee survey is meant to monitor particular plants in the hope of finding the bee that specializes on said plant. However, we end up finding a lot of different species of bees using this monitoring method, including the dull green sweat bee on Spring Beauties!

We are still collecting a small number of bees as part of the specialist bee project. We are finding lots of cool things with that project even though we are collecting way fewer bees overall. I’m spending 1-2 days a week in the field as part of the specialist bee project and the graduate students are out most of the days it is not raining.

It is past season for the Spring Beauties and the spring beauty miner (Andrena erigeniae), so if you were hoping to find this species, you will have to wait until next year. Now, the early summer bees are starting to emerge!

There are still plenty of cool early season bees to find, so keep getting out there and watching flowers! See our Guide to Specialist Bees of Ohio for a list of plant species to watch. Or join the targeted sampling project here: https://u.osu.edu/beesurvey/native-bee-survey-via-specimen-collections/120-2/

All for now,

MaLisa

 

 

 

May 2 – Trip to Maryland Bee Lab, spring bees, and other updates

Hello everyone!

We have been busy in the lab still working on the many many Lasioglossum specimens from the 2020 bowls. Progress is being made at around 600 more bees identified to species each week. Our current trajectory puts us out at to the winter at the earliest for completion. Slowly but surely is the mantra now.

It is also the peak of spring now, so many people are getting out to sample the spring bees as part of the specialist bee project. With almost 100 species of Andrena in our area, catching the mining bees is a great way to up the species count for your site. Plus it is cool to see that you have the specialist bees at your property. If you want to participate in the specialist bee project, see: https://u.osu.edu/beesurvey/native-bee-survey-via-specimen-collections/120-2/


Driving through two gates to arrive at this unassuming building in Maryland, we find a very interesting bee lab.

Another update is that last week, most of my time was actually spent driving to Maryland to visit Sam Droege and access the reference collection there. It was a fun trip despite some hiccups. We made a lot of good progress and Sam was happy to see a subset of the weird things that we have found so far. Sam and Claire at the USGS bee lab run weekly bee ID training workshops and provide many resources for bee people.

One of the best ways to identify harder groups is to compare specimens directly to reference specimens someone else has identified. It really helps to have all possible options out so you can quickly compare the various characters of each species.

I spent most of my time in Maryland going through the remaining hard Andrena that I had. Of the over 2,000 Andrena that we had from our bowl survey, we are down to only 42 that still need identified! We collected over 40 species of Andrena from the bowl traps, but we expect to find many more species in Ohio. Most Andrena are considered specialist bees, so they are less likely to land in our bowl traps (which are poor imitations of their host plants).


The last day in Maryland I spent going through the Lasioglossum synoptic collection to get more familiar with other species. Lasioglossum are a major headache, so the more experience we get with reference specimens to compare, the better.

Weird Lasioglossum:

Lasioglossum simplex is an unusual parasitic bee that has a “normal” sized cheek and a mandible without a tooth. We might get this species in Ohio, but so far no dice.


Note complete acarinial fan with no gaps

Lasioglossum smilacinae is a tricky species. It has a complete acarinial fan (as opposed to hairs widely separated on t1), a somewhat rugulose mesepisternum, “normal” clypeus, mesoscutal punctures relatively sparse between parapsidal lines, brown abdomen with basal abdominal hairs (but not an obvious apical fringe), and propodeum with dorsolateral slope only ruguloso-imbricate (not rugose with more obvious rasin-y wrinkled sections). This is hard to differentiate from Lasioglossum timothyi.


Note complete acarinial fan

Note long face

Note dense scutal punctures

Lasioglossum perpunctatum is a somewhat rare species that we might find in our samples. It is somewhat unique in that it has a long face (but not as long as the pilosum group), mesepisternum punctate to some degree, very dense punctures throughout the scutum, a complete acarinial fan, abdomen brown with a decent amount of “hair”.


Check out those orange hindlegs!

Lasioglossum tarponense is not a species we expect to find in Ohio as it is mostly only found in the far south like Florida. This distinct bee has bright orange legs which makes it look very different from most other Dialictus.


Lasioglossum taylorae I have not quite worked out. It splits out 2 ways in the 2011 Gibbs key based on the width of the head (somewhat narrow). The scutal punctures are relatively sparse in the center and metapostnotal rugae are distinct.


Lasioglossum tenax is another species that we do not expect to find in Ohio, but still nice to see examples of. It has been reported from the mountains of West Virginia though. It has a complete acarinial fan, distinct punctures on the mesepisternum, long rugae on metapostnotum, 3 submarginal cells, thoracic hairs whitish, and no metallic reflections on the abdomen.

 

All for now,

MaLisa

April 11 – Identification progress and spring bees emerging!

Hello everyone!

We have been busy in the lab preparing for spring field season. Many people are reporting their first bees of the year, with many seeing mason bees (Genus Osmia), mining bees (Genus Andrena), and a small number of sweat bees (Genus Lasioglossum). Another side project in the lab is creating stem nests, which we have finally completed, with 60 nests ready to go!

Behold our hoard of stem nests that we hope to use to trap cavity nesting bees.


We have also been carving away at the many Lasioglossum specimens from the bee bowl project and specialist bee project. We identified over 800 specimens last week, which is a good rate of progress!

Here are a few of the Lasioglossum that we have been working through.

One of our most common species is Lasioglossum hitchensi. For our ID blog 2 weeks ago, we described it as follows:
“scutum punctures dense lateral of parapsidal line and sparse between, t1 fan COMPLETE, mesepisternum ruglose (not punctate), Clypeus with distal margin WIDE (rectangular!!) = mitchelli –> now hitchensi ! Dirt common bee”

I tried to get better photos of the clypeus margin and acarinial fan.

The angle on the head can be hard to see as it is often obscured by hair. I often find myself moving them just right under the light to see the structure better.

Another important (albeit sometimes variable as hairs rub off), character is the complete acarinial fan on the first abdominal segment. The hairs create a bridge that is rarely interrupted. The integument also typically has slight microsculpture that makes it seem slightly dull in this area compared to most other Dialictus bees.


Lasioglossum pectinatum – Specialist Lasiglossum on Physalis? 

Another cool find  from our specialist bee project was 2 specimens of Lasioglossum pectinatum, which are thought to maybe be specialist bees on ground cherries and related plants. One of our specimens was caught on Physalis, but the other was caught on Helianthus (but at a site known to have a lot of Physalis). If you are familiar with tomatillos, you have seen Physalis.

This is one of the black Lasioglossum bees that lacks any metallic reflections. It has a distinctly long face and the inner tibial spur has many tiny teeth (compared to most of the other black Lasioglossum which typically only have 4-5 teeth on the inner tibial spur).

Look at this long face! Not many Lasioglossum have a clypeus extending that low below the face, so this is quite striking!

Note the many short teeth on the inner tibial spur.


Strepsiptera mystery!

These little bulges sticking out of the abdomen are female strepsiptera. It is not common to find strepsiptera in Lasioglossum.

Another challenge we have run into is a weird Lasioglossum that has been parasitized by strepsiptera. These parasites often munch on gonads, which cause the host bee to look not quite female and not quite male. This makes identifying the specimen to species challenging as many of the identification characteristics are different between males and females.

The scutum on our host bee is very shiny, which is unusual for our most common Lasioglossum females.

As an example, the scutum (large plate on back of bee) is often dulled with microsculpture in most female Lasioglossum, but often very shiny in males of the same species. But there are some species of Lasioglossum that have females with shiny scutums, although they are not as common. So is our parasitzed bee just a weird looking form of a common species (I’m betting L. versatum), or is it a less common species that just happens to have been parasitized? We aren’t sure yet. We might need to use DNA instead to officially find out the answer. In the meantime, we will hold onto it and try to get a few other experts to take a look at it.

All for now,

MaLisa

 

March 28th – Lab updates and Lasioglossum Workshop Updates!

Hello everyone!

It has been a busy past several weeks as the graduate students prepare for field work this spring. Bees have started to emerge in southern Ohio (at least on the warmer days). Some of our collectors have even gotten to start collecting for the specialist bee project since enough stuff has started to emerge!

Amber is looking at specialist bees and their nesting habitats. Cheyenne is looking at bumble bees and the impacts of spring floral resources. Lee is the third graduate student in the lab who is finishing up her thesis and will be defending soon!


The Denman Forum:

On March 8th, our undergraduate student Eleanor competed in the Denman Forum at OSU. She presented on the cool hover flies that were bycatch in the bee bowl project and ended up winning first place in the Animal and Insect Sciences category! A copy of the poster can be found here: OhioSyrphidaeBycatch_DenmanForum2021

Dr. Goodell (left), MaLisa (middle-ish), and Eleanor (right)

 

I was particularly excited to see all of our bee bowl sample sites mapped on the poster. You can see how wide our coverage of the state was for the project, so thank you again to everyone who got their kits turned in to us! We will make a similar map for our bee project eventually.


Lasioglossum workshop:

We had a small amount of grant funds devoted to identification services, so we paid Rob Jean to visit our lab to give our lab a small workshop on some of the harder Lasioglossum bees. Rob brought reference specimens of over 50 species of Lasioglossum bees and had us key them out to try to guess the correct identifications. When we would run into a confusing couplet he would explain his interpretation of that character as some of the identification characters are somewhat ambiguous. We all found the workshop rather helpful and will use this new knowledge to get through the many remaining Lasioglossum specimens from the bowl survey. A majority of my time over the last few weeks has been practicing with these keys and trying to gain more confidence in this rather frustrating group. We expect to find somewhere over 50 species of Lasioglossum in Ohio, so we have a lot of work ahead of us.

Below I will throw some images with some of the microscopic characters of some of the species that we covered. This will mostly be a resource for those in our lab who plan to go back and identify our specimens here, but I figured others might appreciate seeing the level of detail we need for this rather tricky group. Below is going to be a bit messy and somewhat un-annotated, and probably some typos, so feel free to stop here if you don’t plan on getting into identification of this hard group.

All for now,

MaLisa


Lasioglossum workshop images and notes:

We used the Gibbs keys, mostly sorting stuff out with the 2011 Revision of the metallic Lasioglossum (Dialictus) of eastern North America (Hymenoptera: Halictidae: Halictini) and also taking into account a few of the more recent changes (mitchelli to hitchensi, clarifications of the tegulare group, etc)
Note the below notes are not comprehensive of all possible species, but at least cover a few of the characters of some of the species we might expect. I also didn’t take notes on every single species that we went over, so some of the workshop species are missing from the below notes.


versans – lack acarainial fan (no photo, but this is really distinct)

disparile – distinct additional band of hairs on abdomen, looks like someone kissed it and left a lip stain

disparile disparile

illinoiense – distinct procoxa and also propodeum sculpturing (procoxa looks like a scone to me) (did not photograph)

foveolatum – very distinct supraclypael area that is darker in the center and bulging, also parapsidal line thick and indented

parapsidal lines larger than normal, deeply indented

anomalum – 2 submarginal cells (smallish, acarinial fan complete)

anomalum

Be sure to check the other characters in addition to submarginal cell number, as sometimes specimens that should have 3 cells will spontaneously lose a vein on one wing and thus look like it only has 2 cells

anomalum anomalum

imitatum – distinct hairs on last abdominal segments, body size small

imitatum

This specimen is a bit gunky, but the small body size and distinct hairs on the last two segments help identify it.


Orange Butt group: select species
vierecki – orange butt, dense scutal hairs


pictum – orange butt, dark clypeus, mesepisternum punctate, postgena polished

postgena polished and reflective

arantium – orange butt, dark clypeus, mesepisternum rugose-punctate, postgena DULL due to microsculpture

arantium arantium arantium


tegulare group – Annoying to ID to species, but the group is defined by having a distinctly bean shaped tegula (similar to Augochloropsis) – (did not photograph)
mesepisternum shining – ellisiae – very hard to see tbh….
mesepisternum DULL, inner hind tibial spur with 3 branches, and paraoculare area with sparse tomentum – tegulare (but supposedly Gibbs will say everything in OH is ellisiae)
other tegulare group species unlikely in our area


Coarsely scupltured propodeum group
bruneri  – Hypostomal carina widely divergent and protrochanter with anterior surface excavated. hypostoma carinae produced (did not photograph, but we have several specimens)
reticulatum – Hypostomal carina divergent, but NOT produced. protrochanter not excavated  (did not photograph)

Hypostomal carina PARALLEL, mesoscutum COARSLY rugose laterally (also thorax dark bluish) = hartii – wetland associate
hartii

hartii

hypostomal carina parallel

hartii

Hypostomal carina parallel, mesoscutum punctate laterally, transverse NOT interrupted medially, tegula punctate (but hard to see imo), mesosoma bluish = nymphaearum –> Now called oceanicum!!

oceanicum oceanicum oceanicum
Hypostomal carina PARALLEL, mesoscutum punctate laterally, transverse propodeal carina interrupted and wings veins pale, mesosoma bluish = albipenne (did not photograph, but we get a lot of these)
Hypostomal carina parallel, mesoscutum punctate laterally, transverse propodeal carina interrupted, wing veins DARK, pitting on scutum denser than albipenne =cressonii (did not photograph, but we get a lot of these)


scutum SPARSE lateral of parapsidal lines; mesepisternum SMOOTH with distinct punctures; larger overall size, minimal hair on abdomen and dark black, and a nice coarse propodeal carina = nigroviride (forest associate) (did not photograph, but we have a few of these)

scutum SPARSE lateral of parapsidal lines; mesepisternum SMOOTH with distinct punctures; smaller compare to nigroviride, small amount of hair on abdomen, propodeal carina very small and only at the base = obscurum (also forest associate) (did not photograph, but we have a few of these)


Scutum sparse (but could go either way in key since so hard to see); frons punctures dense, size small, LONG head; scutum TESSELATE (v distinct), t1 acarinial fan dense = coreopsis. Note that longifrons has a longer head and supposedly a sparser t1 fan, but longifrons is southern

coreopsis

acarinial fan complete

coreopsis

Body size relatively small

coreopsis

Scutum distinctly tessellate

scutum sparse lateral of parapsidal lines, head normal, scutum normal, frons punctures dense, clypeus weekly protruding below suborbital line, propodeal dorsolateral slope imbricate (vs rugose) = lineatulum

linealtulum linealtulum linealtulum

body entirely blue, t1 fan complete, scutum dense punctures laterally and sparse internally, mesepisternum without punctures, = coeruleum

coeruleum coeruleum coeruleum coeruleum

Thorax bluish (or can be the normal green, so be careful), abdomen brown, scutal punctures dense laterally and sparse internally, minimal hairs on abdomen (but there ARE hairs, just not thick patches), head short, mesoscutal punctures relatively coarse, tegula dark reddish brown = oblongum

oblongum oblongum oblongum oblongum

oblongum oblongum

scutal punctures dense laterally and sparse internally, minimal hairs on abdomen (but there ARE hairs, just not thick patches), head short, mesosutum polished, t2 with relatively dense punctures in center and then limited punctures in apical area. as long as there are a few (albeit can look sparse and missing) on apical area then = subviridatum

subviridatum subviridatum


Scutum dense lateral of parapsidal lines, between lines still somewhat dense but considered sparse, (be careful otherwise they will go to pilosum group), face LONG (couplet 62 in 2011 key), and abdomen metallic and t3-4 with dense white hairs, wing veins milky and wing itself somewhat milky, color of thorax slightly bluish = pruinosum

pruinosum pruinosum pruinosum

scutal punctures dense laterally and sparse internally, minimal hairs on abdomen (but there ARE hairs, in my specimen a decent amount of hair on t4, but still can see about 1/2 of integument), scutum dull, face LONG!, t2 apical area impunctate, mesepisternum impunctate = planatum

planatum planatum planatum

scutal punctures dense laterally and sparse internally, minimal hairs on abdomen (but there ARE hairs, in my specimen a decent amount of hair on t4, but still can see about 1/2 of integument), scutum dull, face LONG!, t2 apical area punctate LATERALLY (but I don’t see them), mesepisternum obscurely punctate, metapostnotum WITHOUT medial carinal longer than submedial rugae = taylorae (did not photograph)

Scutum dense lateral of parapsidal lines and DENSE between. Head long, metapostnotal rugae high and distinct. lateral margins of clypeus subparallel distally and pubescense yellowish = pilosum

pilosum pilosum pilosum

Scutum dense lateral of parapsidal lines and DENSE between. head long, metapostnotal rugae high and distinct (higher and more distinct than pilosum). lateral margins of clypeus convergent distally and pubescense white to yellowish, wing vein milky to honeyish = leucocomum

leucocomum leucocomum

scutum dense lateral of parapsidal lines and dense between, head long, metapostnotal rugae not particularly high and distinct, shorter and smaller, metasomal terga brownish (but with some metallic reflections), key says wings dusky but they look normal to me, key says pterostigma brown but looks tanish to me, supraclypaeual area relatively flat and DULL, t2 apical impressed area with distinct punctures, clypeus margin dark = raleighense

raleighense raleighense raleighense raleighense

Scutum dense lateral of parapsidal lines and DENSE between. head WIDE; t3 with dense tomentum on most of the segment, postgena and mesoscutum polished = perpunctatum

perpunctatum perpunctatum perpunctatum perpunctatum


head quadrate (but seems mildly elongate to me because inner margin of eyes are practically subparallel), acarinial fan supposed to be INCOMPLETE (but my ref specimen looks complete), HYPOSTOMAL CARINA DIVERGENT towards mandibles; head wider than thorax = heterognathum (rare-ish)

heterognathum

acarinial fan variable, normally open and not complete like this

heterognathum heterognathum heterognathum heterognathum

scutum punctures dense lateral of parapsidal line and sparse between, scutum shining (rules out versatum), tegulae pale yellow, mandible narrowed in center, protrochanter broad when viewed from side,t1 shiny = callidum

callidum

distinctly curved mandible

callidum

callidum

protrochantor broad

callidum

scutum punctures dense lateral of parapsidal line and sparse between, t1 fan COMPLETE, mesepisternum punctate, tibia and femora brown, metapostnotum rugae more than 2/3 distance to posterior margin, t2 apical impressed area with punctures sparse/absent, body small, 3 submarginal cells, head and mesosoma golden green = cattellae

cattellae cattellae cattellae cattellae cattellae cattellae

scutum punctures dense lateral of parapsidal line and sparse between, t1 shiny, metapostnotum with rugae very short, and abdomen metallic = zephyrus

zephyrus zephyrus zephyrus zephyrus

scutum punctures dense lateral of parapsidal line and sparse between, t1 fan COMPLETE, mesepisternum ruglose (not punctate), mesoscutal punctures relatively sparse, propodeum with distinct carina (so you might think this would go with the coarse propodeal group but the mesepisternum not rugose enough), propodeum with dorsolateral slope rugose and lots of hair on t3-5 = timothyi

timothyi timothyi timothyi timothyi timothyi

scutum punctures dense lateral of parapsidal line and sparse between, t1 fan COMPLETE, mesepisternum ruglose (not punctate), Clypeus with distal margin WIDE (rectangular!!) = mitchelli –> now hitchensi ! Dirt common bee

hitchensi hitchensi hitchensi


VERSATUM GROUP – these SUCK, but are also some of our most common specimens (did not photograph)
scutum punctures dense lateral of parapsidal line and sparse between, hairs present on t2-4, t1 shiny, t2 apical impressed area with distinct punctures, mesoscutum dull posteriorly due to microsculpture and clypeus protruding below suborbital = versatum

scutum punctures dense lateral of parapsidal line and sparse between, hairs present on t2-4, t1 shiny, t2 apical impressed area with distinct punctures, mesoscutum shining ever so slightly (hard to see this character), pale straw tegula, clypeus not protruding much below suborbital line = trigeminum??

admirandum –> Rob Jean says t2 can have very obscure punctures, see key for details. similar to versatum, but smaller in general.

sagax/ephialtum/sablense –> complex not easily differentiated??


Parasitic species: typically lack pollen collecting hairs and have excessively long mandibles
gena wider than eye, metapostnotum rugose, mandible without preapical tooth, mesepisternum rugulose, mandible wide and convergent near apex, labrum with strong basal tubercule = platyparium (did not photograph, but we have several of these)

gena wider than eye, metapostnotum rugose, mandible without preapical tooth and no tubercule = rozeni

rozeni rozeni rozeni rozeni

gena wider than eye, metapostnotum SMOOTH, size small = lionotum (did not photograph)

gena wider than eye, metapostnotum with some rugae, mandible with distinct preapical tooth, mesepisternum vertically carinulate, impunctate, = michiganense

michiganense michiganense michiganense


black integument group: (many more species than those listed here, we just covered a few)
Use the following key for most of the black integument species (noting that Leuchalictus and Lasioglossum subgenera are missing from this key) 2013. Revision and reclassification of Lasioglossum (Evylaeus), L.(Hemihalictus) and L.(Sphecodogastra) in eastern North America (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Halictidae).

scutum punctate and dull, mesepisternum not coarsely rugose, pronotum with SHARP angle, inner metatibial spur pectinate, dorsolateral ridge of pronotum with carina ending before oblique sulcus = swenki

swenki swenki swenki swenki swenki

swenki

Note abdomen color variable, so some have this orange/reddish abdomen

swenki swenki

birkmani – mesepisternum weakly punctate, pronotum rounded, head short (did not photograph)

truncatum – forgot to write characters down, see Gibbs key

truncatum

distinct propodeal carina

truncatum truncatum

texanum – forgot to write characters down, but check out those distinctly enlarged occelli that look like blisters. See Gibbs key for characters

texanum texanum texanum

lustrans – forgot to write characters down, see Gibbs key.

lustrans lustrans lustrans lustrans

Fin. – MaLisa

March 7 – Spring bees incoming!

Hi Everyone,

Hopefully you got out this past weekend to enjoy the warm weather. Soon the spring flowers will be emerging and with them, the spring bees! I know daffodils have started to sprout and my neighbors silver maple tree is already in bloom!


Mystery object:

We had a few guesses on the mystery structure from the last blog, though none were correct.

Example image of mystery object here.

The correct answer is a scale from a moth or butterfly! Scales on insects Lepidoptera can be variable and sometimes come in these ornate shapes. Scales in a single individual butterfly vary across their entire body, so scales on the head are a different shape from scales on the wing or abdomen. You can actually see a couple more scales on the image above in addition to the hand shaped scale.

These scales likely got on the bee by contamination when collecting. Oftentimes, butterflies get caught in nets, but get released. When the butterflies get caught, some of their scales rub off and get stuck in the netting, and then rub off on the next thing that touches the net.

Here is another weird scale that was found on the same bee.

This particular carpenter bee had a menagerie of scales stuck to it.


Preparing for spring sampling:

The graduate students are busy getting permits and organizing supplies for the spring season. We also have people ramping up to be ready for the specialist bee project. We did our training webinar last week, but there is still time to help out with the specialist bee project here: https://u.osu.edu/beesurvey/native-bee-survey-via-specimen-collections/120-2/


Trap nesting bees:

Another mini-project in the lab is creating tube stem nests to try to catch more of the spring mason bees in the genus Osmia. A volunteer in our lab, Brooks, has been trimming Phragmites reeds to use as stem nests for cavity bees.

Trimming Phragmites

Measuring Phragmites to be 6 inches from the node before trimming

The final result is a little over a thousand reeds ready to go

A fun surprise this morning was to find that some wasps had already emerged from the reeds that we had cut.

Can you see the wasp?

Here she is up close. She was having a fun time inspecting the reeds, but we caught her so that she didn’t keep flying around the lab.


Sorting Malaise trap samples:

We were given the bycatch from malaise traps set in 2021, so volunteers and students have been helping to pull out the bees, hover flies, and robber flies. Of course, we have also found some cool other insects while looking through those malaise trap samples. A malaise trap is like a weird tent that insects fly into and get caught. The trap gets left out for many months, with people replacing the trap canister weekly to document species changes over time.

We have found lots of cool hover flies in the traps, including dozens of ant parasite hover flies! We only had a couple of these ant parasites from our bowl traps and found more in a single sample event from the malaise traps than all the bee bowl traps combined. Or perhaps the malaise trap was just lucky and placed at the perfect spot.

Check out the antennae on this fly!

Zooming in on the face and forward facing eyes, I would not be surprised if they were a predatory fly. I think it is probably a predatory fungus gnat like this: https://bugguide.net/node/view/1370774

We have also spotted some other parasitic wasps. Does anyone recognize this wasp and know why those of us in the bee world might be concerned if we see it?

There have been lots of cute spiders, including this pink jumping spider.

This spider had a weird cephalothorax shape.

Another fun one, I believe this is a cleptoparasite of other parasitic spider wasps! I believe this is the genus Ceropales. See: https://bugguide.net/node/view/39892 and https://bugguide.net/node/view/1250619/bgpage

Since I am on a parasite kick, here is yet another parasitic wasp, in this case, a dryinid wasp that was attempting to emerge from it’s leafhopper host. Learn more about the weird pincer wasp lives here: https://bugguide.net/node/view/26938

Otherwise, we are busy in the lab going through the many thousand Lasioglossum specimens from 2020. We have been sorting them into different morpho-groups and then working on those individual groups. An example of a morpho-group would be the the Lasioglossum specimens with strong ridges on their propodeum and rough mesepisternums (Lasioglossum cressonii, L. albipenne, L. bruneri, etc). That group in particular is relatively easy to differentiate, but unfortunately a majority of our Lasioglossum bees are not in this group. We also have a group of Lasioglossum with long faces that are next up in my queue.

All for now,

MaLisa

Feb 21 – Lab updates, bee hitchhikers, and identifying black Lasioglossum.

Hello again!

We have been busy in the lab for the past few weeks.

I made it through the genus level IDs for the specialist bee project and sent those reports out to the respective collectors. To learn more about the specialist bee project, see: https://u.osu.edu/beesurvey/native-bee-survey-via-specimen-collections/120-2/

 


Pollen ID guesses:
Several people were correct with their guesses on the last blog.

This is an early spring species that is relatively common!

Several people guessed correctly both the plant and the bee! The Spring Beauty miner (Andrena erigeniae) is common across most of Ohio and collects this lovely pale pink pollen from the Spring Beauty flower (Claytonia viriginca). Kudos to Laurie, Peter, and Bob for correctly guessing based on the limited information!


Bee hitchhikers:

Sometimes there are other insects or things stuck to the bees that we are identifying. Sometimes, those things actually end up being parasites of bees that are waiting for a ride back to the nest to eat the pollen or baby bees.

Blister beetles (Family Meloidae) are rather common across Ohio, and I believe this is a larvae of one of the blister beetles. The different species of blister beetle are host specific, but a subgroup of blister beetles parasitize bees. Learn more about blister beetles here: https://bugguide.net/node/view/181

Can you spot the hitchhikers on this Dialictus bee? Look closely at the wings!

These are what I believe to be wedge shaped beetle larvae that are clamped down on the wing of this sweat bee. Wedge shaped  beetles are really weird parasitic beetles. Learn more about them here: https://bugguide.net/node/view/4620

We also have several bees that have piles of mites clinging to the abdomen and the wings. They can be so tightly packed that they make the bee look like it has reptilian skin instead.

I also have a mystery for you. Who wants to guess what the mystery hand-like thing is that is highlighted on the image below? Bonus points if you can figure out what bee it is on too. Note that the bee was not washed.

What is the tiny thing indicated by the arrow? Do you have any guesses?


Identifying Black Lasioglossum:
We have a ton of Lasioglossum specimens from our bee bowl project that still need identified to species. The most challenging Lasioglossum bees to identify are in the subgenus Dialictus, which have a slight metallic tint to them. We expect to have over 70 species of Dialictus in Ohio.

This is an example shot of the metallic green Lasioglossum in the subgenus Dialictus. Photographed by Christian L. Munoz who was the sales rep for the fancy and expensive Hirox system.

The remaining Lasioglossum bees lack metallic reflections and consist of several other subgenera. We have 6 boxes of these diverse black Lasioglossum, so I started the process of creating ID guides to train others in our lab on pinned specimen identification. For starters, we have worked out the black Lasioglossum in the subgenus Lasioglossum sometimes referred to as Lasioglossum sensu strictu. I also made a guide for use in our lab for the Lasioglossum subgenus Leuchalictus. The characters for each is described in the guide in the event you want to try on your own specimens. These guides will be mostly relevant for the Midwestern United States.

Identifying Black Lasioglossum _ Leuchalictus <– click here for a guide to the Leuchalictus – only 2 species in our area

FemaleSensuStrictuBlackLasioglossumID <– click here for guide to the Lasioglossum sensu strictu

Example of one of the black Lasioglossum bees from our project.

All for now,
MaLisa