Oct 24 – Progress updates and Specialist bee project pinning

Hi everyone!

We are now up to 33,000 bees identified to at least genus from the bee bowl project, which is just over 60% done. Of those, over 18,000 bees are identified to species (33% complete).

The lab has been busy for the past several weeks and we are happy with the help from volunteers and our intern in Newark. Our intern has help identify over 1,500 bees to species and is now helping process the hover fly specimens as well. We hope to have the hover flies identified by the end of the year, but thankfully there are only 8,000 hover fly specimens compared to the 53,000 bees. It also helps that about 90% of the hover flies from the samples are in the genus Toxomerus, which is an easy genus to learn to identify to species.

To learn how to identify hover flies (also called flower flies), see this online guide: https://sites.google.com/view/flyguide/syrphidae
or these good field guides: https://press.princeton.edu/books/paperback/9780691189406/field-guide-to-the-flower-flies-of-northeastern-north-america

https://www.pollinationpress.com/store/p21/flowerflies.html


Specialist Bee Project Pinning:

In addition to the 2020 bee bowls, we also had people across Ohio target specialist bees. We had our first “pinning party” for the specialist bee project last week, with 4 people bringing 500 bees to the lab. We had a fun time and got everything pinned.

Jim Lundberg also brought his macrophotography focus stacking setup, so he imaged some cool specimens from our project.

This cuckoo wasp shows the high resolution of the focus stacking rig by Jim Lundberg. They are absolutely stunning! Even though it is not a bee, we can appreciate the cool pitting and textures.

An uncommon bee, this is a specialist mining bee on willows, collected by Gunn and Lundberg, and photographed by Lundberg in the lab.

One of my favorite bees, the Morning Glory Turret bee (Melitoma taurea) has a distinct black and gray pattern on the back. Photographed by Jim Lundberg.

Thanks to everyone who has made it to the lab and helped us pin, photograph, and identify specimens!


Weird finds from the bee bowl project:

Just in time for Halloween, we have the insect of nightmares: Twisted Wing Parasites!

This is a male Twisted wing parasite, but we rarely find the males alive or in any samples. Instead, continue reading to see the females that we found.

They may not look like much, but their life cycle is rather horrifying. They burrow into their host insect, and eat the hosts internal organs, often starting with the reproductive organs, but leaving enough organs for the host to survive. Since they start with the reproductive organs, the host often develops to look like an intersex instead of distinctly male or female (which makes identifying the host to species harder as many characters are sex specific).  The female twisted wing parasites are often a glorified sack of eggs sticking out of the abdomen of the host insect. We mostly find the females since they remain in the abdomen.

This Pseudopanurgus bee collected by J Poremski had a female twisted wing parasite sticking out of the abdomen.

An Andrena bee at the same site also had a female twisted wing parasite in it.

For more on the weird life cycles of twisted wing parasites, see: https://www.wired.com/2015/01/absurd-creature-of-the-week-strepsiptera/

I also covered twisted wing parasites (Order Strepsiptera) in two other blogs: https://u.osu.edu/beesurvey/2021/01/11/jan-10-progress-updates-and-at-home-tasks/ and https://u.osu.edu/beesurvey/2021/06/28/june-27-updates-of-the-week/

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We also had another terrifying predator, if you happen to be a beetle larvae.

Beware the Tiphia wasp, well, if you are a beetle larvae. These wasps parasitze a variety of beetle larvae that live in the ground, but thankfully do not go after humans. In fact, you should rejoice if you find a bunch of these in your lawn, as they are likely going after your invasive Japanese beetles.

All for now,

MaLisa

3 thoughts on “Oct 24 – Progress updates and Specialist bee project pinning

  1. Thanks MaLisa!
    We really enjoyed our time in the lab. It sure was “buzzing” with activity!
    It was nice to see the familiar faces of some fellow bee lovers.
    So interesting to see the actual lab in that beautiful new building.

    • I’m glad you could make it! It definitely is nice to get to chat bees with people, especially since so much of the collecting and identifying is something that a lot of us end up doing alone.
      -MaLisa

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