Aug 30 – Collection reminder and facts of the week

Specimen storage:
I’ve had a few people reach out to say their boxes are getting pretty full in their freezer.  If you have the extra freezer space, you can use another box or plastic takeout container to store the overflow. Alternatively, if you happen to be traveling to the Newark or Akron area, you can organize to drop off part (or all) of your kit. Please email MaLisa if you plan to drop off anything before October.

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 want to wait to sample once every two weeks now, that is fine as well! You do not have to stick to the weekly sampling regimen.

Bee facts of the week: 

This female Wool Carder bee is foraging on Anise Hyssop while a male wool carder hovers nearby.

  • Wool Carder bees (Genus Anthidium, family Megachilidae) are weird bees that use plant wool to line their nests. Female bees can be seen rubbing off the plant hairs from particularly hairy plants. They then take that ball of plant fiber and use it to line their cavity nest (check out this gif to see the plant hair collection). They can most often be found foraging for pollen resources on plants in the pea and mint families. We only have two species in Ohio, both of which are introduced from Europe. A third species has been documented in Montreal, Canada, but does not seem to have spread very far yet. The males in this genus can be particularly aggressive and are known to maintain territories around preferred plants. I’ve seen the males attack and successfully drive off carpenter bees from a patch of flowers.

As with other bees in the family Megachilidae, the wool carder bees collect pollen on their stomach (abdomen) in special hairs that are collectively called the scopa.

 ID tip of the week:

  • Wool Carder bees (Genus Anthidium, family Megachilidae) are another group of weird bees that do not look like bees. They are much chunkier than normal bees and brightly colored with brown and yellow stripes. They are likely to be mistaken for aggressive wasps based on their color patterning. They are relatively distinct for common bees, though bees in the genus Stelis also have brown with yellow stripes (but tend to be much smaller). An even rarer bee is Anthidellium, but is a bit smaller than the Anthidium.

This male wool carder bee briefly landed on the Anise Hyssop leaf before going off to defend more plants.

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!

There was not much in this bowl aside from a fly, cricket, caterpillar poop, bee, and some springtails

  • This week I want to cover a group of insects that I have not payed enough attention to: crickets!

Close up of a fallen cricket

  • Most crickets are easily enough identified by their enlarged hindlegs, spiny tibia, and long/thin antennae. Crickets are similar to grasshoppers, but grasshoppers have much thicker antennae.
  • There about a dozen species of true crickets in the family Gryllidae found in Ohio, but over 100 species found in North America. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. This year has been quite good for the population in my backyard, so you can often hear them chirping quite loudly at night. Many crickets are herbivorous and feed on a variety of plants.
  • There are several potential parasites of crickets, including horsehair worms. These worms will leave the host body if the cricket gets crushed or happens to jump in water. There are also parasitic wasps that are ecto parasitoids of some younger crickets, so watch out for weird lumps clinging to the cricket body.

For more about some weird cricket parasites, watch the following video. But be forewarned that this is perhaps not the best video to watch while eating dinner or right before bed. But be pleased to know that these particular worms do not infect humans.

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.

Do you see any bees in this image? Can you recognize anything else?






Okay, did you make your guesses?


There are two bees in this image (circled), though the one in the center is hard to see as it is floating vertically. All of the bigger insects are types of flies. The really tiny black dots are parasitic wasps.



And that is all I have for this week!

Best regards,


2 thoughts on “Aug 30 – Collection reminder and facts of the week

  1. Over the season, I’ve had many Bumblebees, Carpenter bees, and Sweat bees in my yard. Yet, during the time we have been collecting, I’ve only had one of two smaller bees (not sure which I as I didn’t want to mess with them and damage them) make it into my collection cups. This concerns me as to the validity of my process.

    • Hi Keith,

      The goal of this project is to get a baseline understanding of the bees in an area. Bee bowls, as with any method, are not perfect and do not catch 100% of the bees at a particular site (which is for the best, as then we would have too many bees to process). We know that bee bowls collect some number of species, and netting collect some number of species, often with a lot of overlap.

      The goal of this project is to start to understand which species are in an area and then go from there. In general, bigger bees are able to escape the cups, just by the fact that they can more easily climb out. However, we also tend to have a better understanding of many of the bigger bees already as the bigger bees tend to be species more easily identified from a photo (carpenter bees and bumbles especially).

      As there is no perfect method, bee bowls still provide the easiest way to standardize sampling across a large area without having to worry about people only collecting things they recognize as bees (and often tend to miss collecting things like Hylaeus, Anthidium, Stelis, etc).

      Does that make sense?

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