Jan 11th – Interim Reports Sent, Andrena progress, and a new xray machine

Everyone who sampled in 2020 should now have an email with their initial results of the bees identified to at least genus. If you did not receive your email, check your spam/junk box. If you cannot find an email from me, please email me ASAP and I will send it again. I ended up sending out 145 emails, so it took a whole day to send out everything.

For questions about your sampling results, please refer to the last blog post on December 20th or email MaLisa directly.

Progress updates:

Sending the reports only took about a day, so what have I been doing in the meantime? Identifying bees of course! There were also a few days off, but we otherwise made good progress organizing the lab, and identifying all the Eucera, Anthophora, Hoplitis, Pseudopanurgus, and Heriades.

I also started on the Andrena, but those will take a few weeks as we have almost 2,000 Andrena specimens. Andrena are solitary mining bees that are most abundant and diverse in the spring, but there are some cool fall species as well. Many species of Andrena are also specialists, meaning they use only a small number of plants for pollen. So Andrena eriginae will forage predominantly on spring beauties, whereas Andrena hirticincta is a fall aster specialist. To see what Andrena forage on what plant, check out the Ohio specialist bee guide and also the specialist bee website here: https://jarrodfowler.com/specialist_bees.html

I created a poll to see which species people thought would be most abundant. So I will extend that poll to our blog too! Of the Andrena, which species do you bet is most likely to be the most abundant across all of our sites from our 2020 bee bowl samples?

Andrena wilkella is a midseason Andrena and larger than a lot of other species. It has bright orange hairs on the end of the abdomen, so it has been deemed team orange butt.  The left image shows a different Andrena with an orange butt, but you get the idea. Meanwhile, the second most popular choice is Andrena nasonii, which is a smaller bee with somewhat triangular leg and thus deemed team triangle leg. Which species will actually be most abundant? Give me about 3 more weeks to find out.

Once I get through the Andrena, my goal is to take a few days to work on the specialist bee project and get those reports out too. If you are looking for a challenge for 2022, consider signing up to help with the specialist bee project, which involves more targeted sampling of bees directly from flowers. See more here: https://u.osu.edu/beesurvey/native-bee-survey-via-specimen-collections/120-2/

Other lab updates:

Thanks to some additional funds from another project, the lab now has an x-ray machine for bee tube nests! We won’t be using it much on this project, but I thought I would mention it since it is a cool thing to see.

The x-ray machine shipped in this large box.

The actual x-ray machine (left) is barely larger than some of the older desktop computers. The rays are entirely contained and it will not shoot any rays unless the compartment door is fully shut and everything is sealed inside.

The field of view is pretty small, so it only x-rays pieces of tube nests about the size of our hands, but it allows us to zoom in and see any bees inside of tube nests without actually opening up the nests.

Here you can see that these stem nests are full of baby bees and their pollen provisions! The bright white lines are the mud or leaf caps that separate the bees into their own section.

I tried brining in my own pithy stems from my garden that had Ceratina nesting in them last year. It looks like the Ceratina left my nests, but they at least hollowed out the center.

The x-ray machine also works on small bones. Being invertebrates, bees lack bones, so we had to borrow a skull from another lab for this image. Any guesses on what organism it is? (If you squint, you will see the photo is actually labelled with the answer)

That is all of the updates I have for now.

Best wishes,


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