Aug 9th – Event and collection reminder plus facts of the week


Don’t forget there is a Bee Survey update webinar on August 10th at 4:30 PM to discuss the status of the Ohio Bee Survey and our possible next steps. I will also recap some “ID Tips for Bedraggled Dead Bees in Water.” A recording will be provided at a later date for those who cannot attend.

Topic: Bee Survey update
Time: Aug 10, 2020 04:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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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, weather permitting. Please wait at least 7 days from your last sample date

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: 

  • Hibiscus Turret Bees (Ptilothrix bombiformis, Family Apidae) are currently some of my favorite bees. They are floral specialists on Hibiscus (surprise!), but can also be found foraging on Buttonbush, Purple Coneflower, and a few others. I have planted some native Swamp Rose Mallow in my yard, so I am happy to report that I finally have the Hibiscus Turret bees now visiting my flowers! I regularly have males sleeping in my wilted flowers later in the day, which makes it fun to check each flower for potential visitors. Their nests can sometimes form little turret mounds around the entrance. They are also associated with wetlands (as are our native Hibiscus), and can sometimes be observed floating on top of water like striders!

ID tip of the week:

  • Hibiscus Turret Bees (Ptilothrix bombiformis, Family Apidae) are most likely to be confused with large Carpenter Bees (Xylocopa virginica) or Bumblebees (Bombus spp). The Hibiscus Turret bees are thinner than Carpenter bees and have shorter, denser hairs than our Bumblebees. They also have somewhat gangly long hindlegs, as can be seen on this one on my finger.

I somehow convinced this male Hibiscus Turret bee to pose on my finger for a photoshoot a few years ago. Check out those legs!


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! (Potential topics for the upcoming weeks include hoverflies, ants, or parasitic wasps)

This bowl had two skippers and a carrot seed moth

The Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) is one of the most commonly reported species in Ohio. It is one our larger skippers, so less likely to get caught in our traps.


  • As with most (but not all) moths and butterflies, skippers are herbivorous and eat plants as caterpillars. As adults, they can be flying around sites that have their host plants, so if you want a specific type of skipper, it helps to have the right host plant.

For example, this Common Checker-Skipper (Burnsius communis) feeds on plants in mallow family (Malvaceae), of which I have several in my yard. For some reason, I have only photographed these showing the checkered pattern with my cell phone, so this grainy photo will have to do.

Meanwhile, this Zabulon Skipper (Lon zabulon), feeds on a variety of grasses as a caterpillar and can be found nectaring on a variety of flowers as an adult.

  • Oh, and I realized I did not mention how to differentiate these lovely skippers from their moth and butterfly cousins! The easiest way to differentiate them is based on their wing positioning (wings often held up over the back) and the antennae that are expanded at the ends. To learn more, see this blog from the late Dennis Profant on Ohio skippers.

This Peck’s Skipper (Polites peckius) shows the clubbed antennae of skippers well. You can also see it using its long proboscis to drink from the Birdsfoot Trefoil flowers.

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.  This is just so you can start to recognize some of the bees and get an idea of how many bees you actually have.

Aside from the Skippers covered earlier, can you identify anything in this bowl? Do you recognize any of the bees?






Okay, did you make your guesses?

Along with the skippers mentioned earlier, there are at least 44 bees in this cup! There are possibly more than that in the cup as we cannot see under the skipper and some of them are overlapping in the top, so I cannot be sure. The spot where this bowl sits is an open patch of sandy soil, so it is likely a nesting aggregation of the dull green sweat bees. All of the bees appear to be some type of sweat bee. None of my other cups had nearly this number of bees. I think this is probably the most bees I have had in a cup so far this year. What is the highest number of bees you think you have collected in a bowl?



Don’t forget there is a Bee Survey update webinar on August 10th at 4:30 PM to discuss the status of the Ohio Bee Survey and our possible next steps. I will also recap some “ID Tips for Bedraggled Dead Bees in Water.”  Don’t worry if you can’t attend live; we’ll post the recording link.

Topic: Bee Survey update
Time: Aug 10, 2020 04:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 949 9053 3812
One tap mobile
+13017158592,,94990533812# US (Germantown)
+13126266799,,94990533812# US (Chicago)

If you require an accommodation such as live captioning or interpretation to participate in this event, please email MaLisa and we will try to get the needed accommodations.

To see the rest of the dial in numbers, click here to see the original post.


Best wishes,


4 thoughts on “Aug 9th – Event and collection reminder plus facts of the week

  1. MaLisa, Would you suggest a genera of bees as a starting point to glue rather than pin? I just cannot decide how small to pin and my freezer is getting jammed up with little bees.
    Could you just run through some of the Melissodes we are seeing right now. ID’ing the Apidae is very difficult for me because they are new to me this year. I have focused on every other family up until now, but whoa, where did all of these other, new to me bees, come from? Staying at home has rewarded me with time. Staring at bees is a fantastic way to spend it.
    BTW, except for the worst of the drought week when critters constantly emptied the bowls, the survey has been good here in N. Stark Co. I am really in need of in person help, BUT, that will wait for quite a while. I am grateful to you for giving me this opportunity for fulfillment.
    Jeanne Poremski

    • Hi Jeanne,

      Are these bees you have collected separately from the bee bowls? Otherwise, we shouldn’t be pinning anything from the bee bowls yet so I have more time to give people who are interested instructions on how to sort properly. I assume you are just pinning specimens that you have netted.

      For the smaller specimens, when in doubt, you might as well just glue them. I’d say anything smaller than Halictus ligatus or Augochlora is fair game for glue. And even those you can glue if you find you have trouble getting the pin angled properly.

      I covered the most common Melissodes back in July (, but aside from M. bimaculatus, the rest are pretty hard to ID (even with a specimen for me). That is why I haven’t described them more in depth as most of the characters are not easily visible from a photo or they are variable. So any frustrations you have with identifying the weird Apid bees are understandable.

      We can work out in-person help after September, pending things go okay. I might be able to do a lab day up at the Akron Field Station or possibly somewhere else up that way. I’ll have more details on that front as we get closer (and as the pandemic continues to trudge onwards).

      Best wishes,

  2. MaLisa,

    Love these short info-classes. Could you do one on robber flies? I got a nice one in last week’s bycatch.

    Thanks, Carol

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