Sept 6 – 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 is the first Honey bee that I have noticed in my bowls. Many of the larger bees can get out of the traps more easily, so we don’t often actually get larger bees.

  • Honey Bees (Apis mellifera, family Apidae) are the stereotypical bee that most people think of when you say “bee”. However, they are perhaps some of the weirdest bees, and not native to North America.
  • Reasons Honey Bees are Weird, according to MaLisa
    1. They are social (a majority of our native bees are solitary and live alone, whereas honey bees live in large colonies with castes and division of labor)
    2. They live in large cavities (a majority of our native bees live in the ground, often in small tunnels they dig themselves)
    3. They have hairy eyes (Aside from the genus Coelioxys, most of the other genera of bees in Ohio do not have hairy eyes)
    4. They make honey (none of our native bees make honey, so if you crave the sweet stuff, honey bees should still be your go to. Bumblebees do create nectar pots, but the sugar is not concentrated enough to make is shelf stable and cannot be considered USDA grade honey. You would need to completely destroy the bumblebee colony to get their nectar)
    5. They lose their stingers thanks to barbed hooks (Our native species have straight stings, so they can often sting and escape to safety. Meanwhile, honey bees have barbs at the tips of their stings that lodge into your skin. Then their sting rips out as they try to escape, leaving behind the sting and a venom sac that proceeds to add even more venom as it pumps)
  • For more info on honey bees and their weird life cycle, check out the many resources on the OSU Bee Lab Page here:

 ID tip of the week:

  • Honey Bees (Apis mellifera, family Apidae) are best identified by the shape of their body, legs, and head, but there are many other characters that we can use to differentiate them from other bees and insects. For one, honey bee wings are really weird, and they have three distinctly shaped submarginal cells (labelled 1-3 above). Most other bees have more squarish cells, or only two submarginal cells (the entire family of Megachilidae for ex).

  • Honey bees also have distinctly shaped hindlegs that lack hairs in the center, which allows them to pack pollen in large wads. Most other bees (aside from Bumblebees, which also have corbicula), have very hairy hindlegs and do not have a shiny/hairless center when viewed from any angle.

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!

We have already covered skippers and several types of flies, but we have yet to cover hoverflies!

Many hoverflies get mistaken for bees, but they only have a single pair of wings, different wing venation, and often rather skinny legs (so they do not carry pollen in large batches like bees)

This hoverfly has succumbed to a fly killing fungus, which is often referred to as a zombie fungus by various media outlets as it changes their behavior once they get infected.

  • One of my favorite hoverflies is the Wavy Mucksucker (Orthonerva nitida), which has a ridiculous common name, but also some really cool eyes (see below).

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.

How many bees do you see?





Okay, did you make your guesses?

There are at least 6 bees in this image. There are also 7 larger flies and one butterfly. Don’t worry if you weren’t able to pick out all the bees, as I get to easily zoom in at the full resolution to inspect the details of each insect, so I have an unfair advantage to figuring these out 😉

And that is all I have for this week!

Best regards,


4 thoughts on “Sept 6 – Collection reminder and facts of the week

    • Haha, this is true. Hopefully no one has to deal with all 60,000 honey bees going after them. That’s why I like working with the solitary bees, way less risk.

  1. Would honey bees make their home inside a downspout? I have seen a bunch of bees going in and out. The downspout abruptly ends and has an open bottom about 3′ off the ground. Old houses have odd features.

    • Hmm, that would seem a bit small for honey bees. If you had a photo, I could confirm for sure, but I would lean towards a different wasp instead.

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