Aug 15th – Updates of the week and another cool microscope!

We had a busy week of identification, but last week also represented some changes for the lab. It is the end of summer hours for the students before they head back to classes. All the students are moving to the Columbus campus, so I will not see them as much. Tt was a bittersweet week. We could not have made as much progress this summer if it was not for the students collectively working almost 130 hours a week between the 5 of them.  Thanks again team!

As for the progress of the week, we are now up to 13,375 bees identified to at least genus! Of those, 9,485 are identified to species, so we are almost 1/5th of the way done with species identification. About 1,000 of the species level IDs were from the Lasioglossum specimens that we shipped out to Rob Jean to ID, so that progress was technically not this week, but we finally got around to entering them into the database.

Our Identification progress looks good when placed in a pie chart!

Our current speed is based on selectively pulling out the easy to identify bees (Melissodes bimaculatus, Calliopsis andreniformis, Halictus ligatus, and the green bees), so progress will slow down once I focus on the harder bees. Progress will also slow now that students will have greatly reduced hours. But I am tentatively hopeful that I will have everything to at least genus by the end of November so I can send out interim reports.

Scanning Electron Microscopes!

A few weeks ago, you will recall that we got a demonstration of a Hirox microscope. Well, that was not our only microscope adventure recently. Dr. Goodell visited Denison University to test out their Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). Typically, the old type of SEMs required coating the specimens in metals (often gold) get the microscope to work. The electrons would bounce off the metal and then hit the sensor to create the super high magnification view that is not possible with normal light microscopes. However, that also meant that your specimen was now coated in metal, thus effectively destroying your specimen for normal use. That would also mean that taking any images with an SEM was somewhat costly.

The SEM is a very large machine (and also much more costly compared to a normal light microscope). Quintin helped us image the bee specimens. Photos by Dr. Goodell.

However, recent advances in technology have made it so some SEMs do not need to have specimens coated in metal in order to get the high magnification. This is the type of SEM that is available at Denison. Below are a few of the images that Dr. Goodell was able to get.

Loading the pinned specimens into the SEM. Photos by Dr. Goodell.

View of a male Megachile campanulae from upside down.

Since SEMs work by shooting tiny electrons at the target and recording what bounces back, all SEM images come back as a grayscale. Sometimes people add color back to the image, but this is the original image from the microscope.

This is the same bee as above, but zoomed in on the tongue of the bee so you can see the micro-sculpturing

They look like fish scales, but this is actually a close up view of the compound eyes!

This image shows the scopa of a female Megachile centuncularis

Zooming in on the scopal hairs, you start to see some interesting texture.

Zooming in even further you really start to see the structure! Look at those twists!

Anyone want to guess what these two structures are? I will give you a hint that it is on a bee, but not the mouthparts.

Dr. Goodell also scanned some small wasps. Check out all those pits!

Zooming in on the wasp antennae. Every bit of dust and dirt shows up in high contrast. It also looks like small crystals have started to grow on the specimen.


All for now,


2 thoughts on “Aug 15th – Updates of the week and another cool microscope!

  1. Truly remarkable and beautiful! Thanks so much MaLisa for sharing these images with us—the s opal hairs look like fine wool yarn at that magnification

  2. Hmmm… the mystery structures remind me of dragonfly hamules, which I don’t believe male bees have. Must be the fangs of the ferocious vampire bee! Or tibial spurs, perhaps?

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