July 12th – More resources, collection reminder, and facts of the week!

Hi Everyone!

Libby shared with me these neat bee cards that are quick overviews of bee biology and natural history. Check them out here: https://www.greatsunflower.org/sites/default/files/Observer-Bees-ebook-EOL.pdf


Collection kit sampling reminder: For those of you with collection kits, this is your reminder to try to put out your traps sometime this week. Be sure to wait at least 7 days from your last sampling. So if you set your traps on Saturday, you need to wait until next Saturday before considering whether to trap again.

Check the weather for your part of Ohio for the day you hope to sample. Note that weather predictions past 3 days tend to be pretty iffy, so check the weather forecast regularly. If the forecast looks like it is more than a 25% chance of rain, do not sample on that day. I’ve had several weeks of weather causing me to need to delay, so I’ve been able to sample only about every other week.

If you can no longer put out your collection kit, please let me know so we can work on getting the kit into the hands of another volunteer instead.


Bee facts of the week: 

This Masked bee was taking advantage of the thistle bloom a few weeks ago.

ID tip of the week:

  • Yellow Faced Masked Bees (Genus Hylaeus, Family Colletidae) are most often mistaken for tiny non-bee wasps. Their small size, thin bodies, and lack of hair makes them seem very un-beelike. However, once you get to recognize them you start to see them in a lot of places. Females tend to have two yellow triangles on their face (see below), whereas males tend to have much more yellow. The amount of yellow on the face and other parts of the body varies by species and many of the species are challenging to officially differentiate. To learn species level ID characters, see: https://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?guide=Hylaeus_female

Here you can see the two yellow triangles on the female Hylaeus.


What’s that bycatch?
  • Sometimes other small insects or arthropods also land in our traps. Although they are not our intended focus of this project, I will try to give a little bit of info about different groups we might see in our traps. So hopefully you learn a little  entomology along with all of our awesome bee knowledge. If you want a specific group covered that you are seeing a lot of in your traps, let me know!

This week, our bycatch of the week was co-written by Dr. Rich Bradley and myself.

Spider bycatch

There are a few flies, springtails, thrips, and wasps, but this week we will focus on the spiders! The large spider in my bowl is a Dimorphic Jumper (Maevia inclemens) confirmed by Dr. Rich Bradley.

One group you may find in your cups are spiders (Order Araneae). They are fairly easy to recognize with their eight legs, but don’t confuse them with harvestman (Order Opiliones) which are “cousins”, but not spiders. The harvestman (aka daddy-long-legs) are typically pretty successful at avoiding being trapped, but you may find some. We have at least 650 species of spiders known to occur in Ohio in 44 families, with another 48,000 species of spiders described in the world! Spiders are predatory and generally considered beneficial. We only have two medically significant types of spiders (Black Widows, and Recluses, the later of which are restricted to the SW corner of the state). These medically significant spiders are unlikely to show up in our bowls given their normal predation strategies.  Spiders can be tricky to identify to species and often require looking at reproductive structures under a microscope to confirm.  The arrangement of their eyes also helps determine some family level differences in spiders. See the eye arrangement page on Bugguide here: https://bugguide.net/node/view/84423

Here is the same species of spider as in the bycatch photo above, this time photographed by Dr. Rich Bradley. They are definitely cuter when they are still alive.

Spiders that wander into the cups include mostly ground active groups like the wolf spiders (Family Lycosidae) and the stealthy ground spiders (Family Gnaphosidae). Wolf spiders have four of their eight eyes arranged in a trapezoid on the top of the front part of the body (cephalothorax). These eyes are quite large and often visible with your naked eyes. Ground spiders often have a pair of distinctive large cylindrical spinnerets (those little finger-like projections at the back of the abdomen were silk is released). Other spiders that might appear are the very active jumping spiders (Family Salticidae) with their large front-facing eyes. Also the crab spiders (Family Thomisidae) with legs arranged in a crab-like pose.

For more information about Ohio’s spiders, see the official survey page managed by Dr. Rich Bradley here: https://spidersinohio.net/in-ohios-backyard-spiders/

Some spiders also fly or “balloon” as a form of travel. Although a crash landing from these weird flights are unlikely to be the reason they ended up in our bowls, it is still cool to see.


Is that a bee?

  • In this brief section, I will show a photo of a bee bowl and let you guess how many of the insects are actually bees. Don’t worry about properly identifying bees in your bowls for now.  This is just so you can start to recognize some of the bees during the season and get an idea of how many bees you actually have.

Do you see any bees in this bowl?

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Okay, did you make your guesses?

There are 5 bees in this bowl! They are likely all dull green sweat bees in the genus Lasioglossum.

 

And that is all I have for you this week. May the weather cooperate for your sampling and may you stay safe.

Best wishes,

MaLisa

July 5th – Collection Reminders and Facts of the Week

Collection kit sampling reminder: For those of you with collection kits, this is your reminder to try to put out your traps sometime this week. Be sure to wait at least 7 days from your last sampling. So if you set your traps on Saturday, you need to wait until next Saturday before considering whether to trap again.

Check the weather for your part of Ohio for the day you hope to sample. Note that weather predictions past 3 days tend to be pretty iffy, so check the weather forecast regularly. If the forecast looks like it is more than a 25% chance of rain, do not sample on that day.

If you can no longer put out your collection kit, please let me know so we can work on getting the kit into the hands of another volunteer instead.


Bee facts of the week: 

  • Digger Bees (Genus Anthophora, Family Apidae) are ground nesting bees that are occasionally documented in Ohio. Those in the subgenus Melea can form large nesting aggregations and each nest has a small little turret outside the entrance. I can’t find my old photos of this, but see the image here for an example of the nesting structure: https://bugguide.net/node/view/275510/bgpage

ID tip of the week:

  • Digger Bees (Genus Anthophora, Family Apidae) are most likely to be confused with bumblebees or longhorn bees. Two species of Digger Bees which make really convincing mimics of bumblebees are Anthophora abrupta and A. bomboides. They are best differentiated from bumblebees by looking closely at the width of the head and protruding face when viewed from above (bumblebees have thinner heads and their face normally does not bulge when viewed from above). Another key differentiation from bumblebees is that Digger Bees have entirely hairy hindlegs and lack the shiny corbicula that bumbles use to pack on pollen. There is also a grey species of Anthophora called the Orange-tipped Wood-digger Bee (Anthophora terminalis) that is more often documented in Ohio than the bumblebee mimics, so knowing the key characters help rule out other genera. The best characters for a genus level ID will be based on the wing venation, with the third submarginal cell being almost square in shape. But we know that most bees don’t cooperate for us to examine their wings in flight, so that can be tricky as well. So sometimes we actually skip the genus level characters and identify to species instead. In the case of the Orange-tipped Wood-digger Bee, it is a medium sized gray/black bee with a nice patch of orange hairs on the last segment of its abdomen. If we were to look closely at its mandibles we would also see a distinct 3 lobed at the tip. For more ID characters see: https://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?guide=Anthophora_female

What’s that bycatch?
  • Sometimes other small insects or arthropods also land in our traps. Although they are not our intended focus of this project, I will try to give a little bit of info about different groups we might see in our traps. So hopefully you learn a little  entomology along with all of our awesome bee knowledge. If you want a specific group covered that you are seeing a lot of in your traps, let me know!

 

  • I’m cheating this week and using a submitted image, but I figured everyone would enjoy this not quite “bycatch” that was documented by Elizabeth and Jay Heiser. This is a lovely Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus) checking out one of the bowls (and it looks like a bee might also be escaping). Chipmunks are ubiquitous across Ohio, so if one of your cups is knocked over, you can probably blame one of these. Though there are plenty of other mammals that are likely to knock over your cups like Raccoons, Dogs, or Humans. Some of you might even have something like a Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel checking out your cups, though those are not nearly as common. To learn more about mammals in Ohio, check out the ODNR field guide on their website here: https://ohiodnr.gov/wps/portal/gov/odnr-core/documents/wildlife-documents/mammals-ohio-fg

Is that a bee?

  • In this brief section, I will show a photo of a bee bowl and let you guess how many of the insects are actually bees. Don’t worry about properly identifying bees in your bowls for now.  This is just so you can start to recognize some of the bees during the season and get an idea of how many bees you actually have.

How many bees do you see? Can you identify any of them?

 

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Okay, did you make your guesses?

 

There are at least three bees in this bowl! The large one looks to be a Digger Bee in the genus Anthophora, though it initially had me fooled as a Bumblebee in the field. As noted above, the protruding face (clypaeus), width of the head, and extra hairy legs help differentiate it from bumblebees. If you got fooled by the small wasp to the left of the digger bee, so was I. I had to stare at it fully zoomed in and compare the shape of the legs to help rule out a male Calliopsis. None of our other relatively common bees will have yellow legs like that aside from Calliopsis. The upper two bees are either Small Carpenter Bees, Dull Green Sweat Bees, or possibly even female Calliopsis. I’m not entirely sure which based on this view.

 

And that is all I have for you this week. May the weather cooperate for your sampling and may you stay safe.

Best wishes,

MaLisa

June 28th – Collection Reminders and Facts of the Week

Collection kit sampling reminder: For those of you with collection kits, this is your reminder to try to put out your traps sometime this week. Be sure to wait at least 7 days from your last sampling. So if you set your traps on Saturday, you need to wait until next Saturday before considering whether to trap again.

Check the weather for your part of Ohio for the day you hope to sample. Note that weather predictions past 3 days tend to be pretty iffy, so check the weather forecast regularly. If the forecast looks like it is more than a 25% chance of rain, do not sample on that day.

If you can no longer put out your collection kit, please let me know so we can work on getting the kit into the hands of another volunteer instead.


Bee facts of the week: 

  • Oil Collecting bees (family Melittidae) are a rare family of bees that very few people are lucky enough to see. The species we have in Ohio (Macropis nuda) is a floral specialist, foraging on our native yellow loosestrifes. These plants are all associated with wetlands and only bloom for a short period.  I haven’t photographed many of the well, so instead of adding an out of focus image for you to squint at, click on the follow links for examples of native host plants: Fringed Loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata), Whorled Loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia), Swamp Candles (Lysimachia terrestris), Tufted Loosestrife (Lysimachia thyrsiflora), etc. Given the short bloom period of the host plant, and the host specificity, it makes sense that are we have very few records of oil collecting bees in Ohio. It has been reported foraging on other flowers as well, but it most often associated with Loosestrife. You more or less need to know to look for it to hope to find it. There is also a parasitic bee in the Genus Epeoloides that is a nest parasite of Macropis. So if you are up for a challenge, try locating a population of oil collecting bees and then try to see if the nest parasite is also around! See images and info on Macropis here: https://bugguide.net/node/view/953823

ID tip of the week:

  • Oil Collecting bees are in the family Melittidae, but the only representative we know of in Ohio is the Oil bee (Macropis nuda). They look similar to many of the brown Andrena, though by the time Macropis is flying (now) very few Andrena are still out. Getting into the weeds to officially differentiate them, Macropis only has 2 submarginal cells, whereas a majority of our mining bees (and other bees) have 3. See more ID characters on the discoverlife page here: https://www.discoverlife.org/20/q?search=Macropis+nuda

What’s that bycatch?
  • Sometimes other small insects or arthropods also land in our traps. Although they are not our intended focus of this project, I will try to give a little bit of info about different groups we might see in our traps. So hopefully you learn a little  entomology along with all of our awesome bee knowledge. If you want a specific group covered that you are seeing a lot of in your traps, let me know!

Bill Stitt submitted this bycatch of the week! These Leafhoppers in the genus Graphocephala are quite colorful additions to your bowls.

  • This week, I want to highlight leafhoppers! These are a bit bigger than the thrips and springtails that we covered in the last few weeks, but they are just as cool. As with many insects, leafhoppers can be really tricky to ID to species. Leafhoppers are in the Family Cicadellidae and have at least 3,000 species described from North America. They can be found just about anywhere, though like bees, some are host specific. Leafhoppers have piercing mouthparts that they use to poke plants and feed on juices. Some are considered crops pests (See Potato Leafhopper and many others), and others can help vector plant pathogens like how mosquitoes vector diseases in vertebrates. They also serve as great snacks for damselflies and other insectivorous organisms. You can learn more about leafhoppers here: https://bugguide.net/node/view/146

This leafhopper is the same genus as the the ones Bill photographed in his cups. You can see the striking red and green pattern (assuming you aren’t red/green colorblind, at which point, I am sorry).

And with 3,000 species in North America, there are many many weird little leafhoppers to be found. This is a screenshot of some leafhoppers I photographed at a moth light last year. I have found many more since. Many of these are on the smaller size, just barely larger than a grain of rice.

 


Is that a bee?

  • In this brief section, I will show a photo of a bee bowl and let you guess how many of the insects are actually bees. Don’t worry about properly identifying bees in your bowls for now.  This is just so you can start to recognize some of the bees during the season and get an idea of how many bees you actually have.

How many bees do you see? Can you identify any of them? Can you identify anything else in the bowl?

 

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Okay, did you make your guesses?

There are at least 7 bees in this image! They are mostly sweat bees (lower 5) and two black mining bees in the Genus Calliopsis (upper right 2 circles). The tiny square is covering a leafhopper. There are also some small springtails and thrips, but they are too small to easily see.

 

And that is all I have for you this week. May the weather cooperate for your sampling and may you stay safe.

Best wishes,

MaLisa

June 21st – Collection Reminders and Facts of the Week

Collection kit sampling reminder: For those of you with collection kits, this is your reminder to try to put out your traps sometime this week. Be sure to wait at least 7 days from your last sampling. So if you set your traps on Saturday, you need to wait until next Saturday before considering whether to trap again.

Check the weather for your part of Ohio for the day you hope to sample. Note that weather predictions past 3 days tend to be pretty iffy, so check the weather forecast regularly. If the forecast looks like it is more than a 25% chance of rain, do not sample on that day.

If you can no longer put out your collection kit, please let me know so we can work on getting the kit into the hands of another volunteer instead.


Bee facts of the week: 

  • Dull Green Sweat Bees (Lasioglossum [Dialictus] spp) are bees in the subgenus Dialictus, which are in the genus Lasioglossum. This genus is extremely diverse, with almost 100 species thought to occur in Ohio. There are other subgenera of Lasioglossum, but they aren’t as common. Dull Green Sweat Bees are also the ones that are known to land on people to drink their sweat. They are getting vital minerals by doing so, but are at risk of being swatted by us. They will generally drink the sweat and fly away, but if they get caught in a crease (say behind your knees or inner part of your elbow), they might sting out of fear of being squashed. Most nest in the ground and have been occasionally found to nest in the soil of flower pots as well. Almost all bees in the genus Lasioglossum are thought to be generalist foragers, meaning they are found collecting pollen from many different plant groups. There are three floral specialists in the genus Lasioglossum on Jarrod Fowlers website, but they are not in the subgenus Dialictus.

Many Dull Green Sweat bees are generalists and will forage on a variety of plant species.

ID tip of the week:

  • Dull Green Sweat Bees (Lasioglossum [Dialictus] spp) are small bees with a slightly green metallic tint. They are most often confused with Small Carpenter Bees (Ceratina spp), which are less hairy and tend to be a darker metallic blue/green instead of the lighter olive green (but this all depends on lighting too). The Dull Green Sweat Bees will never have hair bands at the end of the abdominal segments, but might have patches of hair at the base of their abdominal segments instead. The positioning of hair bands can also differentiate them from the genus Halictus.

Note the particular green reflective tint along with the lack of a distinct hair band along the edge of the abdominal segments.


What’s that bycatch?
  • Sometimes other small insects or arthropods also land in our traps. Although they are not our intended focus of this project, I will try to give a little bit of info about different groups we might see in our traps. So hopefully you learn a little  entomology along with all of our awesome bee knowledge. If you want a specific group covered that you are seeing a lot of in your traps, let me know!

The bowl looks mostly empty, right? But if you look really closely, you can see a couple specks here and there.

  • This week, I want to highlight Thrips! Like the Springtails we covered in the first week, Thrips are tiny specks that are easily overlooked in traps. I had several in my bowls this week that looked like little grass anthers.

Because they are so small, thrips can be hard to photograph. They are especially hard to photograph in water, where the slight diffraction causes them to not be as sharp as if I had photographed them on a plant.

  • Thrips are in the Order Thysanoptera and can be plant pests, though there are several subgroups that specialize on weird food sources such as fungi, leaf litter, or other insects. We have an estimated 700 described species of Thrips in North America, though they are so small that they are easily overlook. There are another 200 undescribed species in North America that taxonomists are presumably still working on writing up. Thrips are typically really small and often either black, black and white, or yellow. There are winged and wingless species, but those that do have wings have distinct fringed edges, assuming you can get enough magnification to see the fringes. See more info on thrips here: https://bugguide.net/node/view/7754

Is that a bee?

  • In this brief section, I will show a photo of a bee bowl and let you guess how many of the insects are actually bees. Don’t worry about properly identifying bees in your bowls for now.  This is just so you can start to recognize some of the bees during the season and get an idea of how many bees you actually have.

How many bees do you see? Can you identify any of the bees that might be in the image?

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Okay, did you make your guesses?

There are two bees in this bowl! This time, we have a male and a female Calliopsis andreniformis, which were our bee ID tip of the week last week. There are also some flies and springtails.

And remember the first week where I talked about springtails? Well, I had a lot of them floating on the top of the water this week. Here is a hodge podge of several types of springtails that are stuck in the water. They are so small they can’t break the surface tension of the water and instead float on the top!

 

And that is all I have for you this week. May the weather cooperate for your sampling and may you stay safe.

Best wishes,

MaLisa

June 14th – Field Safety, Collection Reminders, and Facts of the Week

Field Safety:

  • Lyme Disease and other tick borne illnesses – Regardless of where you are sampling, there is a chance of running across a tick that might be able to transmit a disease. Lyme disease is the most notable and spread by Deer Ticks, but there are several other maladies transmitted by various ticks in Ohio. It is important to do a tick check after every walk or hike outside and to immediately remove any ticks that you find to reduce the chance of catching any potential illnesses. Learn more about ticks in Ohio in this short video here: https://u.osu.edu/bite/2020/05/09/stay-tick-safe-this-spring/ and on the Ohio Department of Health Page here: https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/odh/know-our-programs/zoonotic-disease-program/resources/tickborne-diseases
  • Wearing boots, long pants, etc – make sure to wear closed toe shoes and long pants when going out to areas with tall vegetation. Not only does that protect you from getting cut on grass, you have an extra layer of protection between your skin and any potential danger. I’ve had my fair share of cuts, scrapes, and plant irritants (looking at you stinging nettle), so I try to make sure I have as much covered as possible. I had a run-in with some fishing line last year that turned out still had the hook at the end. I didn’t notice until the hook started digging into my pants, but thankfully it didn’t break my skin. There are plenty of unforeseen hazards when going anywhere, but making sure to wear protection helps reduce at least some risk.

Collection kit sampling reminder: For those of you with collection kits, this is your reminder to try to put out your traps sometime this week. Be sure to wait at least 7 days from your last sampling. So if you set your traps on Saturday, you need to wait until next Saturday before considering whether to trap again.

Check the weather for your part of Ohio for the day you hope to sample. Note that weather predictions past 3 days tend to be pretty iffy, so check the weather forecast regularly. If the forecast looks like it is more than a 25% chance of rain, do not sample on that day.

If you can no longer put out your collection kit, please let me know so we can work on getting the kit into the hands of another volunteer instead.


Bee facts of the week: 

  • Mining Bees in the little black bee group (Calliopsis spp) can be locally abundant in Ohio, though are not often photographed. I have only seen them alive twice that I can recall, but they have shown up in many of my bowl traps. They are associated with sandy areas. I have found them along a sandy stream bed, in vacant lots with sandy soil in Cleveland, and at an oil field site which also had abundant sand. If you are visiting an area with sandy soil, watch out for these!

This male Eastern Mining Bee (Calliopsis andreniformis) is perched on some sandy soil. The bright yellow legs and bright yellow face set it apart from other groups.

ID tip of the week:

  • Mining Bees in the little black bee group (Calliopsis spp) are small, with wide black bodies with some yellow. The Eastern Mining bee (Calliposis andreniformis) is the species we have confirmed in Ohio, with C. coloradensis and nebraskensis as other possible species. They are sexually dimorphic, with the male Eastern Mining bee having bright, entirely yellow legs and a mostly yellow face. Meanwhile, the female Eastern mining bee has black legs and yellow restricted to three distinct patches on the face. See page 16 of the Bees Of Ohio Field Guide for more details. To see characters for the other potential species and the face patterns, see: https://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?guide=Calliopsis

What’s that bycatch?
  • Sometimes other small insects or arthropods also land in our traps. Although they are not our intended focus of this project, I will try to give a little bit of info about different groups we might see in our traps. So hopefully you learn a little  entomology along with all of our awesome bee knowledge. If you want a specific group covered that you are seeing a lot of in your traps, let me know!

This bowl didn’t catch a lot, but we did find this large fly!

Here is a larvae of a crane fly (with a photo bomb by a stonefly on the left)

My attempt at getting a photo of the appendages and parts of this cranefly larvae did not go nearly as well as the image on Flickr by John Hallmen. However, you can see what looks like a face, but note these are actually related to breathing structures in their butt!

  • Many people misidentify Crane Flies as giant mosquitoes, but note that these large, soft bodied flies are not out to get you! They are generally considered beneficial (and good bird/fish food). Some actually eat mosquitoes as larvae, whereas many others are decomposers that feed on decaying vegetation. To learn more about differentiating the many families of flies that look like Crane Flies and Mosquitoes, see this awesome guide by Even Dankowicz: https://www.inaturalist.org/journal/edanko/36353-guide-to-nematoceran-families

Meanwhile, this adult Crane Fly has some rather interesting patterning on its wings. Note the pair of halteres (little drumbstick things behind the first pair of wings) that are clearly visible and helps verify that this is a true fly.


Is that a bee?

  • In this brief section, I will show a photo of a bee bowl and let you guess how many of the insects are actually bees. Don’t worry about properly identifying bees in your bowls for now, as we will go through processing them together at the pinning parties in the fall.  This is just so you can start to recognize some of the bees during the season and get an idea of how many bees you actually have.

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Okay, did you make your guesses?

A lot of my cups were sparse last week, so not a lot to pick through. This cup had one large bee (circled) and a single skipper.

And that is all I have for you this week. May the weather cooperate for your sampling and may you stay safe.

Best wishes,

MaLisa

June 7th – Collection Kits Weekly Update

Hi Everyone,

I hope you have been hanging in there. It has been a tough week for everyone with COVID cases still holding steady in Ohio and the continued protests across the nation. It has been hard to keep up with all the news as each day seems to be a barrage of new reports. Be sure to take a break, hydrate, and rest up when you need it.

This week, I have two more handouts that might be useful to you. For those putting out traps on public property or parking in weird places while they place their traps, I have created a Survey Car Display. Feel free to print this off and place it folded on your dash when you are setting traps. For those setting traps at public parks, feel free to give your parks contacts a copy of this Bee Survey Bulletin, which can be placed on bulletin boards.

Also, if you missed it last week, here is the link to the Field Guide to Ohio Bees (with updated table of contents): Bees of Ohio_ A Field GuideV1.1.1


Collection kit sampling reminder: For those of you with collection kits, this is your reminder to try to put out your traps sometime this week. Be sure to wait at least 7 days from your last sampling. So if you set your traps on Saturday, you need to wait until next Saturday before considering whether to trap again.

Check the weather for your part of Ohio for the day you hope to sample. Note that weather predictions past 3 days tend to be pretty iffy, so check the weather forecast regularly. If the forecast looks like it is more than a 25% chance of rain, do not sample on that day.

If you can no longer put out your collection kit, please let me know so we can work on getting the kit into the hands of another volunteer instead.


Bee facts of the week: 

  • Striped Sweat Bees (Agapostemon spp) are most abundant in the mid to late summer in Ohio. We expect to find 4 species of Striped Sweat Bees in Ohio. Like most bees in Ohio, the Striped Sweat Bees are ground nesters, digging small holes in the ground in areas with less vegetation. They are considered generalists and can be found foraging on many flower types. In my research in Cleveland, they were documented foraging on Chicory (Chicorium intybus), Narrow leaf Plantain (Plantago lanceolata), White Clover (Trifolium repens), Lanceleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata), among others. 

Despite the inconspicuous nature of the flowers on Lanceleaf Plantain (Plantago lanceolata), several species of bees and flies have been found to forage on them. This Bicolored Striped Sweat Bee (Agapostemon virescens) is taking advantage of the abundant pollen. Bonus hoverfly photo-bombing in the lower left of the image.

ID tip of the week:

  • Striped Sweat Bees (Agapostemon spp) always have a bright green thorax with either a black and white, black and yellow, or green abdomen. The all green Striped Sweat bees are likely confused with the other bright green sweat bees in the Tribe Augochlorini (Augochlora, Augochlorella, Augochloropsis). These other bright green sweat bees are smaller and do not have the distinct raised line on the back of the thorax (see pg 90 of the Bees of Ohio_ A Field GuideV1.1.).  The Striped Sweat Bees with the black and white abdomen are female Bicolored Striped Sweat bees (Agapostemon virescens). This is the bee on your survey transect signs. The Striped Sweat Bees that are all green are females of either Agapostemon seriecus, Agapostemon splendens (sand specialist – rare in Ohio), or Agapostemon texanus). The Striped Sweat bees with black and yellow abdominal patterns are all males and not easily identified to species from a photo. For a key to species, see: https://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?guide=Agapostemon

 

Here you can see one of the Bicolored Striped Sweat Bees in the bowl. The bright green color becomes a bit more muted in the water, and the white hairs become less distinct when they are wet.

What’s that bycatch?
  • Sometimes other small insects or arthropods also land in our traps. Although they are not our intended focus of this project, I will try to give a little bit of info about different groups we might see in our traps. So hopefully you learn a little  entomology along with all of our awesome bee knowledge. If you want a specific group covered that you are seeing a lot of in your traps, let me know!
  • This week, I want to highlight more flies that might be in your bycatch. As with last week, I plan to focus on a single family of flies, in this case the Snipe Flies (Family Rhagionidae)! To start, look at this bowl and try to guess which ones are Snipe flies.

How many Snipe Flies do you see here?

The Golden-backed Snipe Fly (Chrysopilus thoracicus) is the species most people find in forests. Its distinctive golden back is quite the eye catcher!

  • There are around 100 species of Snipe Flies in 8 genera in North America with around 750 species worldwide. Our common ones are somewhat large, with long tapering abdomens. I find Snipe flies most often in woods, though I occasionally find them hunting in turf grass. As with the Longlegged flies from last week, Snipe flies are predatory and feed on a variety of small insects. More information about these flies can be found here: https://bugguide.net/node/view/116

Another species of Snipe fly you might find is the Quadrate Snipe Fly (Chrysopilus quadratus), which has a distinct posture and wing pattern.

Now for the follow up image – all circled flies are Snipe flies! Did you guess correctly?


Is that a bee?

  • In this brief section, I will show a photo of a bee bowl and let you guess how many of the insects are actually bees. Don’t worry about properly identifying bees in your bowls for now, as we will go through processing them together at the pinning parties in the fall.  This is just so you can start to recognize some of the bees during the season and get an idea of how many bees you actually have.

How many bees do you see?

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Okay, did you make your guesses?

There are 3 bees visible in this image! A lot of my cups this week had no bees, so this was my most bee heavy cup of the week. As you will probably start to notice, there is a lot of variation in numbers of specimens collected per bowl, but also by week.

And that is all I have for you this week. May the weather cooperate for your sampling and may you stay safe.

Best wishes,

MaLisa

May 31st – Bees Of Ohio Field Guide now available + weekly updates!

Hi Everyone!

First, I have some news. Some of you might have heard the rumors about an Ohio Field Guide to Bees. Well, thanks to Amy Schnebelin’s effort and design skills, Ohio now has our first comprehensive genus level field guide (also above under Resources)! Many thanks to Amy for spearheading this project!

This is modeled from the Maryland Field Guide and follows the same premise in that this is a free digital field guide. We have updated some of their text and added more Ohio-centric information. Thanks goes to Sam Droege and original Maryland Field Guide crew for making the text available for modification to different regions. Note that species numbers under each genus are currently estimates since we do not yet have a species list for Ohio. If you notice any errors or spelling issues, please let us know and we will update them for the next version.

Feel free to download and have a copy printed at your local print shop for your perusal. I personally like spiral binding, which makes it easier to flip back and forth between pages.

And of course, share away with your friends!

Pdf to the field guide can be found here: Bees of Ohio_ A Field GuideV1.1.1


Collection kit sampling reminder: For those of you with collection kits, this is your reminder to try to put out your traps sometime this week. Be sure to wait at least 7 days from your last sampling. So if you set your traps on Saturday, you need to wait until next Saturday before considering whether to trap again.

Check the weather for your part of Ohio for the day you hope to sample. Note that weather predictions past 3 days tend to be pretty iffy, so check the weather forecast regularly. If the forecast looks like it is more than a 25% chance of rain, do not sample on that day.

If you can no longer put out your collection kit, please let me know so we can work on getting the kit into the hands of another volunteer instead.


Bee facts of the week: 

  • Mason Bees (Osmia spp) are most abundant in the spring and early summer in Ohio. We expect to find around 20 species of Mason Bees in Ohio. Most of our Mason bees are cavity nesters that use mud to line their nests. If you are lucky, you might see a female gathering a ball of mud to line her nest. These are also some of the bees you might expect to occupy some of those “bee tube nests” that you see in the stores. However, note that most often the store bought tube nests seem to be most attractive to the non-native species such as Osmia cornifrons and Osmia taurus for some reason. See more info on different bee nest types in the Extension Factsheet Ent-85: How to Identify and Enhance Ohio’s Wild Bees in Your Landscape

ID tip of the week:

  • Mason Bees (Osmia spp) can be broadly broken down into groups – the brown group (pinned example) and the metallic group (pinned example).  Unlike most other bees, Mason bees carry pollen on their stomachs instead of on their legs. Mason bees also have only 2 submarginal cells on their wings, and a mostly straight basal vein.  Mason bees normally do not have abdominal hair bands, which helps separate them from some of the leafcutting bees (Megachile spp).  The color of their stomach hair, pitting on the abdominal segments, and shape of the clypaeus are all important characters for lower level identification of this group. See characters here for species level ID: https://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?guide=Osmia_female


What’s that bycatch?
  • Sometimes other small insects or arthropods also land in our traps. Although they are not our intended focus of this project, I will try to give a little bit of info about different groups we might see in our traps. So hopefully you learn a little  entomology along with all of our awesome bee knowledge. If you want a specific group covered that you are seeing a lot of in your traps, let me know!
  • This week, I want to highlight some flies that are likely to be in our bycatch. But not just any flies, as flies are an entire order of diverse insects. Instead, I want to focus on a particular family of flies, the Longlegged Flies (Family Dolichopodidae)! To start, look at this bowl and try to guess which ones are longlegged flies.

Can you spot the longlegged flies versus the other flies? This is a tough bowl and was my most “fly-heavy” bowl of the week.

To help you get a feel for Long-legged flies, here is a typical adult that you have likely seen perched on leaves in the sun. Now scroll back up and try again.

There were at least 5 Longlegged flies in this bowl! Did you guess correctly? These are a bit harder to see as they fall to the bottom of the bowls. A lot of metallic colors are also dulled in the water, so that makes them harder to differentiate as well.

 


Is that a bee?

  • In this brief section, I will show a photo of a bee bowl and let you guess how many of the insects are actually bees. Don’t worry about properly identifying bees in your bowls for now, as we will go through processing them together at the pinning parties in the fall.  This is just so you can start to recognize some of the bees during the season and get an idea of how many bees you actually have. This might be a periodic post, so if you like these guessing games, let me know and I can keep adding them in.

So, just how many of these are actually bees?

 

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Okay, did you make your guesses?

 

Everything circled is a bee! This was my bowl with the most bees this week. Most of my bowls only had one or two bees in them, but this bowl oddly had 13 bees (and one longlegged fly).

 

And that is all I have for you this week. May the weather cooperate for your sampling and may you stay safe.

Best wishes,

MaLisa

Kit Collection Reminder – Week of May 24th

Hi Everyone!
This is your reminder to try to put out your traps sometime this week. Be sure to wait at least 7 days from your last sampling. So if you set your traps on Saturaday, you need to wait until next Saturday before considering whether to trap again.
Check the weather for your part of Ohio for the day you hope to sample. Note that weather predictions past 3 days tend to be pretty iffy, so check the weather forecast regularly. If the forecast looks like it is more than a 25% chance of rain, do not sample on that day.
Additional filter “hacks”:
I love working with large groups of Ohioans, because together we are really good at problem solving. The filters definitely don’t hold up well to all the water from our cups, so having something else to hold them makes them less likely to rip.
I used a kitchen strainer to hold mine, which worked fine (and we weren’t using it for anything in the kitchen anyways). It still isn’t perfect, but it gets the job done.

The strainer method works to safely hold the paint filters! Just make sure to wash it well before using for food again.

Elizabeth created her own milk jug carrying containers: one to hold the stacked cups, and another to pour the cup contents into (and then pour that through the strainer once back home).
Rich and Bob used a funnel for support of the filter, which also works well. Funnels can be found at most stores in the kitchen or automotive section.
So hopefully one of these options will work for your samples. See previous posts for other filter workarounds.
Bee facts of the week: 
  • Small Carpenter bees (Ceratina spp) have started to emerge! Ohio has 4 species of Ceratina, but they can be somewhat challenging to differeniate (especially calcarata/mikmaqi/dupla). All of our species are in the subgenus Zadontomerus, so if you submit any small carpenter bee photos to iNaturalist, they will likely get tagged as that. The Small Carpenter bees are stem nesters, choosing to chew through the pith of broken plant stems from the previous year. They can be semi-social, with weird family structures. See: Nesting biology and subsociality in Ceratina calcarata (Hymenoptera: Apidae)

This female Small Carpenter bee can be found foraging on clover

ID tip of the week:
  • Small Carpenter bees (Ceratina spp) are small bees with a darker metallic greenish tint. Female Small Carpenter bees often have a small yellow spot on the center of their face (on the clypaeus), whereas males have a much larger “sombrero” patch of yellow. For the Discoverlife key and images of characters, see: https://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?guide=Ceratina

This male Ceratina peeks out of a stem.  You can see his yellow “sombrero” or UFO on his face.

What’s that bycatch?
  • Sometimes other small insects or arthropods also land in our traps. Although they are not our intended focus of this project, I will try to give a little bit of info about different groups we might see in our traps. So hopefully you learn a little  entomology along with all of our awesome bee knowledge. If you want a specific group covered that you are seeing a lot of in your traps, let me know!
  •  I finally got a break in the rain, so my cups got deployed this weekend. The first few traps I picked up, I noticed I had several small springtails (Class Collembola) in my cups! These are very easily overlooked or mistaken for specks of dust or dirt in your bowls. Springtails are a rather diverse group of hexapods that were once considered insects, but are now their own Class (like how insects are now in Class Insecta). There are over 8,000 species of springtails worldwide and an unknown number of species occur in Ohio. Almost all of them are really small, and thus easily overlooked. They are mostly decomposers and rarely considered pests. Many have thin, elongate bodies, though the order of Globular Sprintails are a notable exception. See Springtail Orders here: https://bugguide.net/node/view/258362/bgpage

This trap caught 4 bees, a leaf, and one springtail. Some of my other traps has several springtails, but my cellphone decided not to focus on them, so I am using this image instead. We might revisit this group later in the summer with better images.

Also check out this awesome high speed video on the “spring” of these wonderful beasts!

 

Best wishes,
-MaLisa

Kit Collection Reminder – Week of May 17th

Hi Everyone!
This is your reminder to try to put out your traps sometime this week.
If you haven’t received your kit yet, please let me know. If you received two kits on accident, please let me know that as well.
If you are sampling on land that is not your own, be sure to get collection permission before hand. If you haven’t gotten permission yet and are running into issues getting permission, please reach out to MaLisa via email.
Check the weather for your part of Ohio for the day you hope to sample. For those of us in central Ohio, our sampling prospects don’t look very promising for a few days. Note that weather predictions past 3 days tend to be pretty iffy, so check the weather forecast regularly. If the forecast looks like it is more than a 25% chance of rain, do not sample on that day.
Filter issues: 
As you may have already seen, some people were able to put their traps out this weekend and ran into some issues with our paint strainers not holding up. There are some slight differences in paper quality from the strainers I initially saw and the ones we had to reorder, but we can make due.
Denise was on the ball and already posted a potential solution by using a coffee strainer on our webpage here: https://u.osu.edu/beesurvey/2020/05/17/paint-filter-issue-and-a-solution/
Dianne also sent us an email saying that the plastic cones for pour over coffee works well to hold them in the field too. I imagine a large cooking strainer or sieve would also make it slightly easier to hold them in the field if you have one of those lying in the depths of your kitchen.  Brooks worked out a short term solution using the zipoc bag to hold the strainer as well, so you have a few options.

Dianne’s coffee filter cone works well to hold the paint filters in the field.

Bee facts of the week: 
  • Many mining bees (Andrena spp) are flying right now! So expect to get a few in your traps. Ohio is expected to have about 100 species, but with your help, we should find out! Many of these mining bees are floral specialists, which means they rarely stray onto other flower types. For a few examples, see: https://jarrodfowler.com/specialist_bees.html
ID tip of the week:
  • Mining bees (Andrena spp) are mostly black or brown. Female mining bees have distinct facial fovea (vertical eyebrows) and extra fluffy “armpit” hairs, which help differentiate them from other groups. Size can be varies by species, with some half the size of honey bees and others a bit larger.
What’s that bycatch?
  • Sometimes other small insects also land in our traps. Although they are not our intended focus of this project, I will try to give a little bit of info about different insect groups we might see in our traps. So hopefully you learn a little other entomology along with all of our awesome bee knowledge.
  •  This week, Bill found many adult sawflies in his traps. The larvae of this group look a lot like moth caterpillars, but have extra sets of legs and smaller eyes. Similar to moth caterpillars, most sawfly larvae feed on plants, and can be host specific. Adult sawflies can be confused  with bees, other wasps, and sometimes flies. They have rather chunky bodies and lack the characteristic narrowed waist found in bees.  For more info on Sawflies, see: https://bugguide.net/node/view/112
Best wishes,
MaLisa Spring

Paint filter issue and a solution

Hi all! Maybe you had a similar experience this week with the bee survey paint filters? The filter paper is rather flimsy, and was nearly disintegrated by the time I finished picking up my bowl contents.

If you put the paper filter inside a coffee filter before you empty your bowls, this should suffice to gather your catch. Just let the soapy water drain through, then fold the two together and put them in the week’s ziploc bag. Cone or basket filter should work.