April 4th – Bowl trap updates

Last week we finished sorting 3 kits:  S. Lewis (Scioto County), T. O’Neil (Lake Co), and C. Gunn (Clermont Co). We are over 18,200 bees pinned and databased. We actually now have a backlog of 9 boxes to be entered into the database, so we technically pinned more than that last week. Our student workers were out half the week due to the partial spring break last week.

We have sorted at least 43 of the kits, but still plenty of kits left to sort. I was working on project logistics for the specialist bee project, so no new progress on identification.

Despite our data entry backlog, we still entered a decent amount of pinned bees.


Helping in the lab in the age of Covid:

We had our first volunteer back in the lab since November! I’m excited that more people are getting vaccinated and we can have people back in the lab.

B. Heath helping to pin specimens

Wondering how you can help speed up our process? If you would like to come to the lab in Newark, there are several tasks that people can participate in. We will mostly have people start with pinning bees, but people can also be trained to sort bees from bycatch in samples, label specimens, or other lab tasks.

You do not have to be a collector to help out in the lab. You also do not have to help for the entire timeslot for a particular day, so if you are only interested in helping out for an hour or three, that still works. No one is obligated to spend the whole day pinning bees.

The lab is open to people interested in helping pin or sort specimens on a limited basis. The following caveats must be reached: 1)  you have managed to get a covid vaccine, or 2) you have already gotten covid and recovered. If you fit one of these exceptions and want to come to the lab to help out, please sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090F4BAEAC2EA6F58-beepinning

Note we are still required to have masks on while on OSU property. We are still limiting our rooms to a maximum of 3 people, but we have additional classrooms down the hall to expand our capacity if more people want to volunteer at once.

Want to see how to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ohio? See the vaccine distribution website here: https://vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov/

Note that all adults now eligible for the covid vaccine in Ohio! I got my first shot last week (and only side effect was soreness at injection site). All of our lab workers have also started their first doses of the vaccine as well. 


Bycatch of the week: – I did not manage to photograph any bycatch this week, so no new photos. It is finally getting warm again, so bees and other bugs are emerging! Take a minute this week to find a cool bug to learn more about.

Upcoming events:
Tues, April 6th 1-3 PM – Newark Student Research Forum – One of our undergraduate students will be talking about the hoverflies that were caught in the bowl traps. Her talk will be at 2:15. Register here (and put NA for the instructor) if you would like to watch via Zoom: https://newark.osu.edu/research/research-forums/student-research-forum.html
Once a recording is available, I will try to post that on this blog.

– All for now,

MaLisa

28 March – Specialist bee signup and bowl trap updates

Last week we finished sorting 2 kits: second kit by K. Capuzzi (Hocking Co), and C. Gleditsch (Madison Co). We also started sorting the kit by S. Lewis (Scioto County). We are over 17,815 bees pinned and databased. We have sorted at least 39 of the kits, but still plenty of kits left to sort. I was working on project logistics last week, so no new progress on identification.

 

At this point, I am kind of impressed at how consistent we are with newly pinned specimens each week.


Helping in the lab in the age of Covid:

Wondering how you can help speed up our process? If you would like to come to the lab in Newark, there are several tasks that people can participate in. We will mostly have people start with pinning bees, but people can also be trained to sort bees from bycatch in samples, label specimens, or other lab tasks.

You do not have to be a collector to help out in the lab. You also do not have to help for the entire timeslot for a particular day, so if you are only interested in helping out for an hour or three, that still works. No one is obligated to spend the whole day pinning bees.

The lab is open to people interested in helping pin or sort specimens on a limited basis. The following caveats must be reached: 1)  you have managed to get a covid vaccine, or 2) you have already gotten covid and recovered. If you fit one of these exceptions and want to come to the lab to help out, please sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090F4BAEAC2EA6F58-beepinning

Note we are still required to have masks on while on OSU property. We are still limiting our rooms to a maximum of 3 people, but we have additional classrooms down the hall to expand our capacity if more people want to volunteer at once.

Want to see how to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ohio? See the vaccine distribution website here: https://vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov/

Note that all adults now eligible for the covid vaccine in Ohio! I get my first shot this week, as do most of our regular lab workers. OSU Newark is also a vaccination site, though the vaccines are being given on a different building on campus.


Specialist bee project:

You can still sign up to help with the smaller specialist bee project for this summer! Instead of setting even more bowl traps, our goal for this summer is to target plants known to host specialists bees. So if you would like to participate in a more hands on project of hand collecting bees, see our project here: https://u.osu.edu/beesurvey/native-bee-survey-via-specimen-collections/120-2/

This also will coincide with our specialist bee guide that we are hard at work on finalizing. The guide will be organized by plant host so that you can hopefully learn to recognize the plant to then be able to monitor for potential specialist bees.


Bycatch of the Week:

Dun dun DUNNN! If this image immediately elicited fear, then you probably thought this was an Emerald Ash Borer (the culprit of the destruction of most ash trees across Ohio). However, this is a closely related species that is not nearly as destructive. It was found in the Hocking County site by Capuzzi.  See more information about this species here: https://bugguide.net/node/view/25117

Capuzzi also had several of the tiny snails that bring me joy. Grain of rice for scale. Imagine trying to find this snail on purpose. It would be very easy to overlook these snails as just grains of sand.

Gleditsch had two weird Ant-like Flower beetles. They supposedly feed on decaying vegetation.

And surprise, another ant! This is one of the Big-headed ants that I was told to watch out for. The head (right) is bigger than the butt (left). This was from the kit by S. Lewis, so it will be interesting to see if we find more of these ants as we sort through the rest of the kit.

Capuzzi’s kit had quite the surprise as well. Does anyone see what is amiss here? Aside from the abundance of flies and sawflies.

There is a cicada nymph! And it is one of the 17 year cicadas, which were not supposed to emerge last year, but instead were supposed to emerge this year.  The bright red eyes separate it from the annual cicadas.

For those who are not ready, the periodical cicadas are supposed to emerge across most of Ohio this year (2021). Be on the look out for these red eyed beasts with orange wings starting in May.

And I do not think I have said this enough, but thank you to everyone who has participated and followed along. This is an enormous project that we would not have been able to do without each of you. This is an unprecedented scale for Ohio, so I am excited to see how all these bees turn out (and the bycatch, which I am trying to get into the right hands). Since we got such good coverage across the state (over 80% of counties surveyed and kits returned), we should be able to try to answer some interesting questions.

All for now,

MaLisa

March 22 – Spring is here and more chances to help out in lab

Weekly progress:

Last week we finished sorting both kits by D. Winstel (Delaware County) and also finished sorting the kit be L. Raulinaitis et al. (Licking Co). We are over 16940 bees pinned and databased. We have sorted at least 36 of the kits, but still plenty of kits left to sort.

I am interested to see if we can get the progress trajectory to change. We are nothing if not consistent, so hopefully once we get more people to come in to help us, we can markedly increase the number of bees pinned each week.


Spring is finally here!

Spring flowers are finally starting to pop, so people are reporting both blooms and bees on iNaturalist. What will be your first bee of the year?

I had a single flower blooming in my yard early last week, and lo and behold, a queen bumblebee found it and slept inside it for two days! I now have a host of crocuses blooming and the daffodils will pop in a few days.

The Maple trees are also in full bloom in central Ohio. I have not noticed any bees on my yard tree, though it is still early.

It is also prime time to go look for Fairy Shrimp in a vernal pool near you. (and also salamanders, but I am biased towards invertebrates)

An adult fairy shrimp from a vernal pool with fingers for scale. These are weird, slow moving creatures that swim upside down and disappear after the waters are consistently above 60 degrees F. I have found them at about half a dozen vernal pools now. This one was found in a wetland on the west side of OSU’s campus in Columbus.


Helping in the lab in the age of Covid:

Wondering how you can help speed up our process? If you would like to come to the lab in Newark, there are several tasks that people can participate in. We will mostly have people start with pinning bees, but people can also be trained to sort bees from bycatch in samples, label specimens, or other lab tasks.

You do not have to be a collector to help out in the lab. You also do not have to help for the entire timeslot for a particular day, so if you are only interested in helping out for an hour or three, that still works. No one is obligated to spend the whole day pinning bees.

The lab is open to people interested in helping pin or sort specimens on a limited basis. For now, the following caveats must be reached: 1)  you have managed to get a covid vaccine, or 2) you have already gotten covid and recovered. If you fit one of these exceptions and want to come to the lab to help out, please sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090F4BAEAC2EA6F58-beepinning

Note we are still required to have masks on while on OSU property. We are still limiting our rooms to a maximum of 3 people, but we have additional classrooms down the hall to expand our capacity if more people want to volunteer at once.

Want to see how to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ohio or see if you qualify yet? See the vaccine distribution website here: https://vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov/

Note that people who are 40 and above are now eligible for the vaccine in Ohio! The qualifications have also expanded to many people with medical conditions including heart disease and obesity, among many others. Otherwise, vaccinations open up to all adults in Ohio after March 29th, so there is finally light at the end of the tunnel.


Specialist bee project:

You can still sign up to help with the smaller specialist bee project for this summer! Instead of setting even more bowl traps, our goal for this summer is to target plants known to host specialists bees. So if you would like to participate in a more hands on project of hand collecting bees, see our project here: https://u.osu.edu/beesurvey/native-bee-survey-via-specimen-collections/120-2/

This also will coincide with our specialist bee guide that we are hard at work on finalizing. The guide will be organized by plant host so that you can hopefully learn to recognize the plant to then be able to monitor for potential specialist bees.


Bycatch of the Week:
We still had plenty of things in the 3 kits sorted this week too.

There is only one ant in this photo, but can you guess which? The top individual is an ant, but the bottom insect is actually an immature broad headed bug! The true bugs have distinct piercing sucking mouthparts, which is very different from the chewing mouthparts of ants. Many people confuse the broad headed bugs with ants and they do make quite convincing mimics. These specimens were from Winstel’s kit in Delaware.

More poorly understood insects! The kit by Winstel also had the rare Forcepflies that we covered back in August. We still do not know what these insects eat or what their larvae look like. But this makes at least three specimens that have been caught in bee bowls so far. They could be initially mistaken for cockroaches given their drab appearance (and I did get excited for a brown cockroach the week prior, as I initially thought it was also a forcepfly, but alas, it was only a cockroach)

We also got another one of the weird ants in the genus Dolichoderus. So it seems we now have found several sites with this weird ant genus. This specimen was collected by D. Berube from the Licking county kit.

Perhaps the shape that haunts many of us, this is not Covid, but instead some very similar looking large pollen grains that were collected by a long-horned bee. Pollen comes in many shapes, sizes, and colors, so hypothetically someone can identify these pollen grains to figure out what plant it came from. It looks most similar to Hibiscus pollen to me.

That is all for now,

MaLisa

March 15 – Updates and Specialist Bee Project Announcement

Weekly progress:

Last week we started sorting a kit by D. Winstel in Delaware County. We are over 15,500 bees pinned and databased. We did not identify any additional bees last week as I was working on some paperwork and the specialist guide most of the week. That also means I do not have any bycatch information to share at this time.

We are at least consistent with our rate of specimen pinning. It will be interesting to see if we can get the numbers to go up dramatically once volunteers start coming back into the lab. We only started tracking the number of bees pinned per week around the beginning of December, which is after we stopped having volunteers.


Specialist bee project:

I have also been working on clarifying methods for the upcoming field season. Instead of setting even more bowl traps, our goal for this summer is to target plants known to host specialists bees. So if you would like to participate in a more hands on project of hand collecting bees, see our project here: https://u.osu.edu/beesurvey/native-bee-survey-via-specimen-collections/120-2/

This also will coincide with our specialist bee guide that we are hard at work on finalizing. The guide will be organized by plant host so that you can hopefully learn to recognize the plant to then be able to monitor for potential specialist bees.

One such specialist bee is the Hibiscus Turret bee (Ptilothrix bombiformis). This is a species that is relatively easy to ID from a photo, but most specialists are not so easy to identify in comparison.


Helping in the lab in the age of Covid:

The lab is open to people interested in helping pin or sort specimens on a very limited basis. For now, the following caveats must be reached: 1) if you have managed to get a covid vaccine, or 2) you have already gotten covid and recovered. If you fit one of these exceptions and want to come to the lab to help out, please sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090F4BAEAC2EA6F58-beepinning

Note we are still required to have masks on while on OSU property. We are still limiting our rooms to a maximum of 3 people, but we have additional classrooms down the hall to expand our capacity if more people want to volunteer at once.

Want to see how to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ohio or see if you qualify yet? See the vaccine distribution website here: https://vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov/

Note that people who are 50 and above are now eligible for the vaccine in Ohio! For those of us under 50 and do not have a qualifying medical condition, we still have a few more weeks to wait.

All for now,

MaLisa

Bee Survey Update: hover flies and progress of the week

Weekly progress:

Last week we sorted two kits: K. Orosz (Carroll County) and H. Scott (Brown County) and finished the rest of the kit by C. Carrol (Hancock County). We are over 14,400 bees pinned and databased. We did not identify any additional bees last week as I spent more time sorting kits and also helping with the hoverfly bycatch.

We have been pretty consistent with the number of bees pinned by week. I did not keep track of our pinning progress that well towards the beginning, so this graph is from mid-December till now. We have slowly but steadily been increasing our number of specimens pinned each week. If we get more volunteers in the lab, I hope to get this number to go up a lot.


Bycatch of the week:

I bet you were not expecting yet another fly! There have been an abundance of flies in the samples, but this is the first Flat-footed fly that I have noticed. It was in a sample by H. Scott.

The hindleg is quite expanded.
Most Flat-footed flies (Platypezidae) are associated with fungi.

The leafhopper people were particularly excited for this otherwise drab specimen collected by K. Orosz. This specimen is somewhat unique with its rounded head and very rarely encountered. There are only 2 other photos of this species on iNaturalist despite this being a somewhat large leafhopper.

K. Orosz also had a fly that was practically ready to burst with eggs! Check out all the eggs that you can see through the “skin” of the fly.


Hover fly project:
Our undergraduate assistant Eleanor has taken up a side project with the bycatch hover flies. In the next few weeks we will have a writeup of what she has found so far. I spent an hour or so last week photographing a few of the weirder specimens. So below are a few previews to keep you excited about even more bycatch.

Our most common hoverflies by a wide margin are the ones in the genus Toxomerus. This one was collected by N. Helm.

However, there have been some fun weird hover flies like this ant parasite from the kit by Diltz.

The hoverflies that have been causing us headaches are the small black hoverflies in the Tribe Pipizini. Small patches of hair behind the head and under the wings are the characters to separate the genera. The hairs can be a bit annoying to try to see as they are so small and our specimens so bedraggled from their water collection. The flies are really fragile, so we cannot wash them to clean them up either. This specimen was collected by Capuzzi.


Photographable bee species list for Ohio:

Example of part of the list. Click link here to get full pdf: Ohio Bee Species Checklist -1

L. Lebovitz has created a “life list” for species that have been documented in Ohio via iNaturalist. So if you are looking for bees to chase that you might be able to photograph instead of collecting, this list is a good place to start. Note that there is also a column for whether the specimens need collected to verify an ID (M in the micro ID) or if they can be temporarily held (hand in micro ID) to get the right images or views of structures. She also added the Growing Degree Day (GDD) calculation to help you get an idea of when things should emerge near you. See file here: Ohio Bee Species Checklist -1


More bee resources:

Although it is for Oregon, there are several good bee resources that are applicable to Ohio on the Oregon Bee Atlas page.  See: https://www.oregonbeeproject.org/training-videos-and-manuals

Specifically, you might find the Cheat Sheet to Bee Genera somewhat helpful for our common bee genera (here in Ohio or Oregon).


Helping in the lab in the age of Covid:

The lab is open to people interested in helping pin or sort specimens on a very limited basis. For now, the following caveats must be reached. 1) if you have managed to get both doses of a covid vaccine, or 2) you have already gotten covid, recovered, and can show both + then – covid tests. If you fit one of these exceptions and want to come to the lab to help out, please send an email to MaLisa at spring.99@osu.edu

Want to see how to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ohio or see if you qualify yet? See the vaccine distribution website here: https://vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov/
Update: Dewine just announced that Ohioans 50 and older will be able to get the vaccine starting THIS Thursday. So many of you are likely now eligible or close to being eligible.


Upcoming events:

March 13th, 2-3 pm. Jason Dombroskie – Moths: What we don’t know and what you can do about it. – a talk on documenting moths and butterflies in your own backyard. Watch/register here: https://www.facebook.com/events/732467954304459/

That is all for now,

MaLisa

Feb 28th – Bee Progress Update + more resources

Weekly progress:

Last week we sorted half of a single kit by Carroll et al (Hancock County). We are over 13,800 bees pinned and databased. We have also identified over 4,300 bees to at least genus.

This sample had perhaps the most hoverflies in a sample in a single week. There were over triple the number of hoverflies in comparison to bees!

I also spent a lot of time this week getting Lasioglossum specimens packed to be shipped to another expert to verify. Carefully packing specimens for shipping takes a lot of time, and involved moving them into sturdier specimen boxes where they are less likely to get damaged.

The process of packing specimens is very time consuming. First I have to get them in a sturdy container. A piece of gauze is in the bottom right to catch any body parts that might fall off during shipping.

Once everything is placed in the box, we add a layer of styrofoam to hold the pins in place and add more cushion. I also cut off the corners of two sides to make the styrofoam easier to remove. Then the lid goes on the box.

Finally, the smaller boxes are placed in a larger box with ample cushioning. So even if the outer box is damaged, the specimens are less likely to incur damage. Another layer of padding is added and then the larger box is closed. We shipped out 8 boxes (4 smaller boxes in 2 larger boxes) last week.

Bycatch of the week:

Have you ever wanted a beetle that could double as a giraffe mimic? Well, do I have a beetle for you! Meet the long-necked ground beetle that was collected by Carroll, Fields, and Myers! This is a smallish beetle about 2x the size of a grain of rice.

It is also hard to pass up the cute eyes of a jumping spider. The abdominal markings were particularly vibrant on this one. This was also collected by Carroll, Fields, and Myers.


Bee Fact of the Week:

This week, I am going to cover a topic that was covered by colleagues at Penn State. I recommend checking out their blog and paper here:
https://lopezuribelab.com/2021/02/25/a-diamond-in-the-pumpkin-patch/

Gynandromorph: 

The López-Uribe Lab recently published their paper on a squash bee gynandromorph, which I highly recommend reading. For those who do not wish to click through and read their blog, a gyndandromorph is an insect that has both male and female tissues in distinct patches on their body. This is most evident in the secondary sex characteristics, which in humans would be things like beards. So imagine someone who only grows a beard on half of their face, but now imagine them as a bee.

Bees have many secondary sex characteristics that we use to help determine the sex of the bee. These include antennae length, number of antennal segments, hairy mandibles (which might as well be beards), pollen collection structures, eye size, etc.

Photo of the face of our gynandromorphic Bombus bimaculatus that was photographed by Sam Droege. Note the patchy hair on the face.

We have not yet noticed any gynandromorphs in our bowl samples from this current project. However, there has been at least one gynandromorph collected in Southeastern Ohio as part of my undergraduate research. It was a Two-spotted Bumblebee (Bombus bimaculatus) which was a mosaic gynandromorph. That means it had patches of male and female characters that were not restricted to one side of the body, so some legs had male characters, other legs had female characters, etc.

The same bee, but viewed from the side. A) shows the hindleg with a corbicula used to collect pollen. B) shows the hindleg that is much more rounded out and hairy throughout. These photos were also taken by Sam Droege.


Want to learn more about squash bees?
Check out the new squash bee guide by the López-Uribe Lab from Penn State! Get the free ebook from their webpage here: https://lopezuribelab.com/squash-bee-biology/


Helping in the lab in the age of Covid:

I am glad to see that vaccines are becoming more widely available. Moderna and Pfizer have announced more doses to be available soon and the Johnson and Johnson one shot vaccine was approved last week! So fingers crossed that we are closer to being through this.

The lab is open to people interested in helping pin or sort specimens on a very limited basis. For now, the following caveats must be reached. 1) if you have managed to get both doses of a covid vaccine, or 2) you have already gotten covid, recovered, and can show both + then – covid tests. If you fit one of these exceptions and want to come to the lab to help out, please send an email to MaLisa at spring.99@osu.edu

Want to see how to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ohio or see if you qualify yet? See the vaccine distribution website here: https://vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov/


Training:

Want to learn how to sort specimens in our kits? I recorded a presentation on how to sort bees from the bycatch. It might not be helpful if you do not plan to visit the lab to sort specimens, but you might still find it entertaining. For those who do plan to visit the lab, note that copies of the presentation are printed out in the lab for reference while sorting. 

All for now,

MaLisa

Feb 21 – Snow days and identification progress

Weekly progress:

We did not sort any more kits last week since we had a backlog of sorted specimens that needed washed and pinned. We are over 13,100 bees pinned and databased. We have also identified over 4,090 bees to at least genus. I spent a lot more time identifying this last week, hence the jump from 3,380 identified bees to 4,090. I need to clear out some more space, so I will be spending more time identifying for the next few weeks, assuming we do not get snowed out. And we did lose one day to snow last week, so I spent that time at home working on the specialist bee guide.

Example box of labelled specimens. These specimens have both collection (location/date/collector) and identification labels.

Another step that I have not mentioned, but key to our progress, is labelling the pinned specimens. Each individual bee must be labelled with their own unique collection label indicating the date/location/collector/specimen number. Both Eleanor and Rahma, our student workers, have been diligently adding labels to the pinned specimens and are over 10,000 specimens with labels. I cannot add identification labels until they have added the collection labels, so their help is greatly appreciated.


Bee Updates:

Ok, so this weeks bee info will not be as in depth as last week. However, I did find a cool plant/bee interaction that I though was worth mentioning. Most plants have small pollen grains that bees will pack into their scopa/corbicula.

A small carpenter bee with milkweed pollinia attached to the leg.  This specimen was collected by C. Svoboda.

However, some plants, like orchids and milkweeds, instead create tiny saddlebag like pollen sacs (called pollinia) that have sticky ends to them. Insects trigger a “trap” when they visit the flower, which causes the pollen sacs to get attached to the insect. Then the insect is stuck with these weird little pollen bags until it visits another plant where the sacs hypothetically get stuck and then ripped off. That is not always the case, so sometimes insects are stuck with the pollen sacs for the rest of their life. Some insects also get stuck in the traps and die in the flowers because they cannot get the pollinia off.

A close up of the milkweed pollinia where it is attached to the small carpenter bee.

The cool bee from this week had several pollinia attached, but the pollinia were much smaller than the ones I normally see. They might be orchid pollinia since they are so small, but I am not sure. See images below.

A few of the bees that I was identifying this week had the pollen sacs stuck to their mouths. This male Calliopsis had the most (at least 5), but there was also a female Calliopsis and a Lasioglossum bee that had them attached. This specimen was collected by N. Helm.

This is a close up view of the pollinia stuck to the mouthparts of the Calliopsis. These pollinia are a third of the size of the normal milkweed pollinia.


Name that organism:
No guesses on the mystery organism from last week.

Last chance. Any guesses? Scroll on for the answer!

.

.

.

The mystery organism from last week was a hairy snail! I do not have a lot of information on why some snails are “hairy”, but there are groups that have hairs like this. Some have these “hairs” when they are younger and lose them as they age. Some species seem to have the hairs their entire life. I


Papers of the week:

Impacts of multiple pollutants on pollinator activity in road verges by Phillips et al.

A cool paper that looks at what might be impacting pollinators along roadways. They looked at wind, heavy metals, noise, and dust as potential factors that might impact bees. The highest impacts were the sections closest to the road (within 2 meters) and wind (called turbulence in their article) was a deterrent.

Read full paper here: https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2664.13844

See also the twitter summary here where they also show how they performed the various experiments: https://twitter.com/ben_phi11ips/status/1362350616291528704

Example from tweet thread

I have to say, I was quite entertained by their pollinator “swing o meter” to determine wind turbulence. Anyways, check out the paper and tweet thread above if you want to see more details.


Helping in the lab in the age of Covid:
The lab is open to people interested in helping pin or sort specimens on a very limited basis. For now, the following caveats must be reached. 1) if you have managed to get both doses of a covid vaccine, or 2) you have already gotten covid, recovered, and can show both + then – covid tests. If you fit one of these exceptions and want to come to the lab to help out, please send an email to MaLisa at spring.99@osu.edu

Want to see how to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ohio or see if you qualify yet? See the vaccine distribution website here: https://vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov/


Events:

Saturday, February 27th, 9am – 3 pm: Ohio Natural History Conference (online and free!): Theme: Biodiversity & Technology: The Future of Natural History. Topics covered include telemetry, drones, and motion sensor cameras to document wildlife.
Register here: http://www.ohiobiologicalsurvey.org/ 

Friday, March 5th, 10 am – 12 pm: 2021 Ohio Wildlife Diversity Conference (online and free!):
Birds, millipedes, and snails! The talk lineup sounds like an eclectic mix of fun presentations and they are revealing two new ODNR booklets! Register here: https://ohiodnr.gov/wps/portal/gov/odnr/home/additional-resources/division-of-wildlife/2021-ohio-wildlife-diversity-conference-registration

Best wishes,

MaLisa

Feb 14th – Identifying bees and finally some bee facts

Weekly progress:

Last week we sorted a single kit: N. Sullivan (Athens County). We are over 12,700 bees pinned, with the last two sorted kits still waiting to be washed, dried, and pinned. We have also identified over 3,380 bees to at least genus. I spent a lot more time identifying this last week, hence the jump from 2,100 identified bees to 3,380. I need to clear out some more space, so I will be spending more time identifying for the next few weeks, assuming we do not get snowed out.

I also forgot to tell you, but the prior week, I finally delivered flies to our fly person and spiders to our spider person. So that cleared up a little more space in our freezer and got specimens off to other experts.


Bees!

Example pie chart of the bee abundance by family at one sample site (Cedar Bog in this case)

Note that Cedar Bog is still technically an anomaly in our samples so far, with the highest number of bees collected (n=1,538). The second highest number of bees collected at a site was at Glacier Ridge Metro Park (n=951), followed by Camp Oty’okwa (n=900), Homestead Metro Park (n=703), and Crane Hollow Preserve (n=682). However, comparing straight abundances does not mean that bees are actually more abundant at Cedar Bog vs the other sites. This is because we are just looking at total numbers of bees and not correcting for sampling effort. Some people ran into more issues with the weather or other factors, and thus did not set their traps as often (which is perfectly fine!). Or some sites had cups overturned more often, so they “lost” some of their sampling effort. I only ended up setting my own traps once every two weeks, but I know I had many bees per bowl. So if we are interested in comparing abundances per site, the best way to do so is by comparing the number of bees collected per bowl.

We do expect some variation in abundances of different groups by site. This is the data for the SHARP site, which had no small carpenter bees, which meant way fewer bees in the Apidae family. The site also had a ton of the small black mining bee, Calliopsis andreniformis, which is in the family Andrenidae.

A lot of the bees so far have been more or less what I expect to find. Plenty of small carpenter bees (Ceratina spp), two spotted longhorn bees (Melissodes bimaculatus), small black mining bees (Calliopsis andreniformis), dull green sweat bees (Lasioglossum spp), and bright green bees (mostly Augochlorella aurata). Out of the 3,300+ bees identified so far, only 36 have been European Honey Bees (Apis mellifera).

A male small dark mining bee (Calliopsis andreniformis) resting on the ground midday in Cleveland. This is only the second individual I have seen alive. The males of this species have completely yellow legs and mostly yellow faces. They also have striking yellow eyes when they are still alive. Eye color changes drastically once a bee dies, so take eye color in pinned specimen photos with a grain of salt.

Female small black mining bees have completely black legs and unique yellow markings on their face, but are otherwise similar in structure and size to the males. This is a pinned specimen, so their eyes would not be this color/pattern while alive.

The sheer abundance of the small black mining bees is still throwing me for a loop since most kits seen to have a lot of them, yet I so rarely see them alive when I am out looking at flowers. Even my own site had tons of them in my traps, yet I have never seen one out flying at that location. It could be that  the Calliopsis are foraging for resources earlier or later than when I am out looking for bees. Or perhaps they are only foraging for resources really close to the ground, where I am less likely to see them. I am not quite sure, but I plan to look harder for them this summer.

For some reason, it looks like this bee is smiling! This is the same Morning Glory Turret bee that we covered back in November, but this time with a face view to show you that lovely “grin” to brighten your day.

The last bee I want to cover this week is this haggard mason bee (Hoplitis truncata) collected by C. Diltz. This poor male has been around the block. His wings are in tatters, so I am surprised he was able to fly with the remaining stumps.

Bonus chin-beard image. His wings may be in tatters, but at least his facial hair is still intact.


Bycatch of the week:
I didn’t photograph much bycatch last week since I spent most of the time identifying. However, if you missed the Valentines day themed bycatch from last week, you can check it out here: https://u.osu.edu/beesurvey/2021/02/08/feb-8th-cold-weather-but-still-plenty-of-bees/


Name that organism:
Here is a challenge for you, who can guess this organism based on the super close up macro shot? I bet you will be surprised with the answer.

What am I?


Papers of the week: 
Bumble bee species distributions and habitat associations in the Midwestern USA, a region of declining diversity by Novotony et al. 2021.
Have you wanted to read about the results of the Ohio Bumblebee Survey? They are published in an open access article, so read away! They visually documented over 23,000 bumblebees across 10 species throughout Ohio. These 10 species of bumblebees were documented visiting over 170 species of plants! The most common bumblebees observed were the Common Eastern Bumblebee (Bombus impatiens), Brown Belted Bumblebee (Bombus griseocollis), and Two Spotted Bumblebee (Bombus bimaculatus). This also lines up with what is reported on iNaturalist for Ohio. They also found that sites that were recently planted with flowers had more bumblebees visiting, so keep on planting flowers. The paper also looked at various factors that impacted the species abundances. Three species (B. fervidus, B. vagans, and B. perplexus) were more likely to be found in forested habitat.  B. perplexus was also affiliated with urban wildflower patches. We still have not re-documented the now federally endangered Rusty Patched Bumblebee (B. affinis), which was last seen in Ohio in 2013.

Read the full article and details here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10531-021-02121-x


Helping in the lab in the age of Covid:
The lab is open to people interested in helping pin or sort specimens on a very limited basis. For now, the following caveats must be reached. 1) if you have managed to get both doses of a covid vaccine, or 2) you have already gotten covid, recovered, and can show both + then – covid tests. If you fit one of these exceptions and want to come to the lab to help out, please send an email to MaLisa at spring.99@osu.edu

Want to see how to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ohio or see if you qualify yet? See the vaccine distribution website here: https://vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov/


Events:

Saturday, February 27th, 9am – 3 pm: Ohio Natural History Conference (online and free!): Theme: Biodiversity & Technology: The Future of Natural History. Topics covered include telemetry, drones, and motion sensor cameras to document wildlife.
Register here: http://www.ohiobiologicalsurvey.org/ 

Friday, March 5th, 10 am – 12 pm: 2021 Ohio Wildlife Diversity Conference (online and free!):
Birds, millipedes, and snails! The talk lineup sounds like an eclectic mix of fun presentations and they are revealing two new ODNR booklets! Register here: https://ohiodnr.gov/wps/portal/gov/odnr/home/additional-resources/division-of-wildlife/2021-ohio-wildlife-diversity-conference-registration

That is all for now,

MaLisa

Feb 8th – Cold weather but still plenty of bees

Weekly progress:

Last week we sorted 3 kits: the kit by Y. Cecil (Jackson County), the kit by D. Thompson (Brown County), and the kit by L. Andrews (Athens Co) . We are over 12,200 bees pinned! We have also identified over 2,100 bees to at least genus.


Bycatch of the week:

Just in times for valentines day, we have ants in the genus Crematogaster.

This ant is known as a Cherry Ant, but the genus of ant is Crematogaster. Why is this relevant to Valentines day, you ask?

The genus Crematogaster has a distinctly shaped gaster (the butt). If you squint you can vaguely see the heart shape. So Happy Valentines day everyone!

Some say that mimicry is a form of flattery, so the ants should be properly flattered with this mimic. The top golden wasp is indeed a very good ant mimic. It took me a few minutes of getting excited about another weird ant and sending photos to the ant group for us to realize that it was in fact, not an ant.

The key character to determine if a wasp is an ant is the presence of a petiole/pedicel (marked with two black arrows on the black ant in the bottom of the image). Our mystery wasp had a thin and smooth waist between the thorax and gaster, and thus is not an ant.

This silken fungus beetle with golden hairs caught my eye last week. Not many beetles have dense hairs on their body.

The beetle seemed less than impressed to be here. However, it turns out this is actually a beetle associated with bumblebees! This is a species that lives in bumblebee nests and can sometimes be found hitching a ride on a bumblebee. That means sometimes you might find one of these beetles clinging to the face of an unfortunate bumblebee.

Andrews also had a lovely little fairy wasp, with long legs and feathery wings. I lost my grain of rice, but you could probably fit about 10-20 of these wasps on a single grain.

Have you ever thought of using a fly as both a bus and a food source? Well, these mites likely beat you to it. This unfortunate fly was host to over a dozen mites that were clinging to its abdomen!

Finally, let’s end our bycatch of the week with a rather weird fly.

Cecil’s kit had a single Stalk-eyed fly. There is only one other observation for stalk eyed flies in Ohio, so these are not common flies. They are thought to be associated with skunk cabbage, so I guess I need to look closer at some the next time I find a patch.

Although not from Ohio, this video highlights part of why stalk eyed flies are so cool. Check out how they pump up and expand their eyes!


Papers of the week:

Bees in the trees: Diverse spring fauna in temperate forest edge canopies by Urban-Mead et al.

They put traps in the canopy and found a lot of bees were still found foraging high up in the trees. This is even though most trees are considered “wind pollinated”.

Honey bee hives decrease wild bee abundance, species richness, and fruit count on farms regardless of wildflower strips by Angelella et al.

“Wild bee abundance decreased by 48%, species richness by 20%, and strawberry fruit count by 18% across all farm with honey bee hives” Note that other studies in strawberry crops have found that honey bees were neutral or beneficial for crop yield of strawberries specifically. This study highlights that in some circumstances, honey bees can have a negative impact.


Helping in the lab in the age of Covid:
The lab is open to people interested in helping pin or sort specimens on a very limited basis. For now, the following caveats must be reached. 1) if you have managed to get both doses of a covid vaccine, or 2) you have already gotten covid, recovered, and can show both + then – covid tests. If you fit one of these exceptions and want to come to the lab to help out, please send an email to MaLisa at spring.99@osu.edu

Want to see how to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ohio or see if you qualify yet? See the vaccine distribution website here: https://vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov/


Events:

Saturday, February 27th, 9am – 3 pm: Ohio Natural History Conference (online and free!): Theme: Biodiversity & Technology: The Future of Natural History. Topics covered include telemetry, drones, and motion sensor cameras to document wildlife.
Register here: http://www.ohiobiologicalsurvey.org/ 

Friday, March 5th, 10 am – 12 pm: 2021 Ohio Wildlife Diversity Conference (online and free!):
Birds, millipedes, and snails! The talk lineup sounds like an eclectic mix of fun presentations and they are revealing two new ODNR booklets! Register here: https://ohiodnr.gov/wps/portal/gov/odnr/home/additional-resources/division-of-wildlife/2021-ohio-wildlife-diversity-conference-registration

 

All for now,

MaLisa

Jan 31st – More lab fun

Last week we sorted 2 kits: the rest of the kit by J. Estep (Union County), and the kit by J. Moosbrugger (Hocking Co) . We are over 11,500 bees pinned! We have also identified over 1,600 bees to at least genus. More time was spent identifying bees last week instead of sorting.


Bycatch of the week:

Moosebrugger had a nice little leafhopper in their kit. But do you see something weird?

It has a “face” on its back! Several leafhoppers have various patterns on this part of their back.

Anyone notice anything wrong with this spider?
It has no legs! The spider was likely the prey of a spider wasp. The wasp must have accidentally dropped the spider in the bowl. Some spider wasps catch spiders, inject them with a paralytic, but also cut off all the legs, presumably in case the paralytic wears off. See an example of the wasp in progress here: https://bugguide.net/node/view/1231655/bgimage

The final bycatch of the week is this assassin bug! This bright orange bug has a straw for a mouth that it uses to inject prey and then slurp them up.  Luckily, it is smaller than an inch, as being eaten with a straw is probably the plot of a few horror movies.

The assassin bugs are normally a much brighter orange, so this image shows the color when they are still alive. The orange fades a bit once they die. This one was a visitor in my dorm several years ago.


Helping in the lab in the age of covid:
The lab is open to people interested in helping pin or sort specimens on a very limited basis. For now, the following caveats must be reached. 1) if you have managed to get both doses of a covid vaccine, or 2) you have already gotten covid, recovered, and can show both + then – covid tests. If you fit one of these exceptions and want to come to the lab to help out, please send an email to MaLisa at spring.99@osu.edu

Want to see how to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ohio or see if you qualify yet? See the vaccine distribution website here: https://vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov/


Events:

Friday, March 5th, 10 am – 12 pm: 2021 Ohio Wildlife Diversity Conference (online and free!):
Birds, millipedes, and snails! The talk lineup sounds like an eclectic mix of fun presentations and they are revealing two new ODNR booklets! Register here: https://ohiodnr.gov/wps/portal/gov/odnr/home/additional-resources/division-of-wildlife/2021-ohio-wildlife-diversity-conference-registration


Friday, March 26th, 9 am – 12 pm: THE 16TH OHIO BOTANICAL SYMPOSIUM (online and free!):

Want to learn more about cool plants in Ohio? Presentation titles include: Best Plant Discoveries of 2019-2020, A Force for Nature: Lucy Braun, A Century of Climate Warming Results in Growing Season Extension Through Delayed Autumn Leaf Phenology in North Central North America, and Flora and Caterpillars: The Botanical Rubber Meets the Larval Road
Register at: https://ohiodnr.gov/wps/portal/gov/odnr/discover-and-learn/safety-conservation/about-ODNR/nature-preserves/botanical-symposium

 

That is all for now,

 

MaLisa