- If you are reading this, then we made it through the year 2020. Congratulations!
- Despite the ongoing pandemic, we shipped 155 kits to 87 of the 88 counties in Ohio. Lisa Lebovitz and Denise Ellsworth were key in getting the kits put together and shipped across the state. Thanks Lisa and Denise! And thanks to everyone who signed up to set out a kit. We could not have done this without you.
- Despite the ongoing pandemic, we had a return rate of over 75% of the kits we shipped! That is an amazing return rate on a normal year. I know a few more people still have kits that they hope to turn in eventually, so maybe we can get that return rate to 80 or 85%? Thanks so much to everyone who participated as this is a phenomenal achievement!
- Amy Schnebelin lead the charge in adapting a field guide to have our own Field Guide to Ohio Bees! Thanks to Amy for making that cool guide happen!
- Despite limited lab visitation, we have managed to pin over 9,000 bees! We also pinned 700+ hoverflies (Syrphidae) and 200+ robberflies (Asilidae). This is from sorting just 19 of the 120 kits that were returned so far.
- We hired a student worker. She applied and received funds to research the hoverflies from the bycatch of the project!
- Over $1,200 was donated to the project to contribute to research supplies. These will fund much needed pins, boxes, and other sorting materials. Thanks to everyone who donated!
- We posted over 40 blogs like this to keep everyone informed on progress and hopefully spread some buggy joy.
Where will 2021 take us?
- Sorting + Pinning: We still have over 100 kits left to sort. We had originally hoped that the pandemic would be better by now, but alas, that is not the case. We had a few people in the lab to help sort and pin specimens before cases got above 3,000 a day. I’m still waiting for those daily case numbers for Ohio to go back down before having people back in the lab. The exceptions I will make is if you have managed to get both doses of a covid vaccine or have already gotten covid, recovered, and can show both + then – covid tests. So for the time being, I don’t expect many people to fit into those exceptions.
- Identifying: I will start identifying the pinned and labelled specimens soon. I’ve been spending every Friday working on Lasioglossum, but will likely switch one day of the week from sorting over to identifying. The pinned specimens are taking up a large section of the wall and at our current rate, we might run out of space in the lab for pinned specimens. I’m hoping I can at least identify a few boxes so those identified boxes can then be transferred to a space at Dawes where they can be safely stored.
- Creating resources: I’m working on a specialist bee guide to make it easier to target specialist bees! TBD on how long it will take to create, but I’m optimistically thinking we might have something usable eventually. But as with all things during a pandemic, who knows.
- Sampling: Pending progress on the specialist bee resource above and also on whether we manage to identify more specimens, we might have a new sampling project for summer 2021 that involves much more limited and targeted collection of specialist bees. However, lots of factors in play, so hard to say at this point. We are definitely not doing bee bowls for a second year to avoid even more overwhelming workload on my part.
Progress and Bycatch of the week:
We sorted 2 kits last week, completely sorting and pinning the kit from P. Boyer (Wayne Co.) and starting on the kit by D. Reiser (Summit Co.).
What is that bodypart?
Only one person guessed on our mystery bodypart from last week. Rich Bradley gets points for correctly guessing the order of the insect leg.
The leg above is the hindleg of a grasshopper, which would be order Orthoptera and family Acrididae.
Bee and relevant scientific articles:
On bowl color and wasp preferences: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/eea.13008
There has been a lot of work trying to figure out the best colors for sample traps. There are a lot of papers already written on what colors attract the most bees, but the paper linked above also highlights the ideal colors for other wasps. Perhaps unsurprising to most wasp researchers, yellow caught the most wasps (both in abundance and species richness), followed by fluorescent yellow, white, blue, and fluorescent blue. Red and clear traps caught only a fraction of wasps, which makes sense given the habitat (red traps are considered better in desert habitats, but this research was of forested habitat in Maryland). When looking at just bees, the yellow, fluorescent yellow, white, fluorescent blue, and blue all performed similarly (with the clear and red traps again performing poorly). They also found that despite the different colors of traps catching similar numbers of bees, some bees were only found in certain color traps. Thus, having a multiple colors of traps (not just all fluorescent yellow or all fluorescent blue) is important for sampling bees. Yay us for already using the multiple colors.
That is all for now,