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:

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?






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,


9 thoughts on “May 31st – Bees Of Ohio Field Guide now available + weekly updates!

  1. I like the questions approach, so I would appreciate more opportunities. I also like the highlights of other insects that are likely to be captured. The info on Colembola and the long-legged flies was interesting. I’ve seen a couple of beetles and small butterflies/moths, but I think lots of flies (maybe mostly flies).

    Maybe, I’ll take a few pictures of bowls to see if I can sort out things in the pictures. It is an interesting approach.

  2. Thanks for the info. I received my kit last week and just did my first collection on Saturday. I thought I had flies in my cups, not bees! Glad to know differently. I was worried that all the bugs collected would get crushed or matted together in the strainer. Do they stay fairly intact?

    • Yea, generally the specimens stay fairly intact as long as you don’t apply a lot of force to them. That is why we are freezing them and placing them in the box in the freezer. We don’t want something else in the freezer to fall on them and apply a lot of pressure, so the box should protect them from that risk. Even then, bees are pretty tough, but I also want to save the bycatch like flies, which tend be softer and easier to damage.

    • Hi Susan,

      You can have a copy printed at your local print shop. You should be able to send them the pdf and get a quote for a print.

      We are not printing them off on our own as that takes a lot more work and cost up front, but you are free to have a copy bound and printed. We are encouraging people to do that if they want this in a non-digital form. I know officemax and other large box stores have an easy print option, but I’d recommend trying your local print shop instead. It is cheaper to print in black and white, but it is probably worth the extra money to print it in color.

    • Hi Susan,

      I’m not sure if you saw my earlier comment, but we are not printing hard copies. However, you can download the pdf and then send that to a local print shop and they can print it for you.

      Best regards,

  3. Nice job on the fly details! I have been finding several pearl crescents and some skippers in my bowls in one location and lots of flies in my other location. I have lost one bowl to the lawn mower, and one to ???? I have had them out twice to both locations and am down to 22 bowls; is that enough bowls? And thank you for the updated field guide.

    • Thanks!

      Yea, I will have to do a skipper bycatch post eventually. I’ve gotten a few of them, but not many.

      Yea, keep sampling with the bowls you have. If you get below 15 bowls, we will try to work on replacements. I expect there to be some attrition due to mowing and squirrels deciding to steal them.

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