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?





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,


19 thoughts on “June 7th – Collection Kits Weekly Update

  1. Went out to put my cups out today and I accidentally stepped on a large snake. He bit my calf and I needed up having to get a tetanus shot. I survived and reman committed to the survey!

    • Oh no! I hope you are okay! Snakes blend in really well, so I have almost stepped on a few (though not while putting out bowls).

      If you are putting out cups in high grass where you can’t easily see as well, it might be worth wearing a pair of tall muck boots if you have them. That also reduces the risk of getting cut by some of the grasses as well.

    • Yea, a lot of things look different when soaked and not posed normally. I’ll try to include a photo of them in the water and alive each time to help everyone get a feel for their different shapes and colors.

  2. I had my transect out this weekend. It didn’t seem like there were as many bees this week. Seemed like a lot of smaller flies……..

    • Was it cloudy up your way? Bees tend to fly less on cloudy days, so the weather (even if it doesn’t rain), can play a factor. Flies are much more likely to fly on cool, cloudy days.

    • Hmm, I’m not familiar with the term Red-eyed Flies. A quick google search shows flesh flies in the family Sarcophagidae, of which I have seen a few in our bowls. I’ve also seen several Bristle Flies (Tachinidae) and Blow flies (Calliphoridae), so eventually we should be able to cover some of those.

    • In the bowl where you circled the snipe flies in the bottom left is what looks like a fly with red eyes (to me anyway). That looks like what I am catching.

      Also, no bumble bees have tumbled into the traps, but I see them everyday in my yard. Are they supposed to be included in this survey?

      • Ahh, okay. Yea, there are several groups of flies that have bright red eyes light that and are in several different families (Muscidae, Calliphoridae, Sarcophagidae, etc). I’m not entirely sure what that individual fly is at this moment without trying to key it out to be sure.

        As for bumblebees (and larger bees), they tend to escape more easily from the traps, which is fine. We want to avoid catching bumblebees (especially the queens) on the unlikely chance that Bombus affinis (federally endangered species) is around. But given previous efforts have failed to find it in Ohio in the past few years, I don’t expect that to be much of an issue.

        That being said, any form of trapping will have some sort of collecting bias and not fully represent everything present in an area. The bowl traps catch a pretty wide range of species and are easy to use and standardize, which is why we went with this method.

  3. If the weather doesn’t allow us to put out cups exactly 7 days apart, would you rather us put them out a day early or a day later?
    Appreciating all the information about the different species each week. Thanks

    • Hi Tammy,

      Please wait at least 7 days, so if the weather looks bad the following week, you should wait until after the 7th day.

      I’m glad you are enjoying the info! I’m hoping people get a lot of use out of these.

      Best wishes,

  4. I’m enjoying this process, but feeling sad about the number of butterflies I find in my bowls, especially yellow bowls.😐 I guess it’s unavoidable.

    • Hi Barbara,

      Yea, unfortunately there will be a small amount of bycatch (though a lot of people are catching higher numbers of flies it seems). We hope to archive all bycatch in the museum, so their deaths will not be in vain.

      Best regards,

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