May 2 – Trip to Maryland Bee Lab, spring bees, and other updates

Hello everyone!

We have been busy in the lab still working on the many many Lasioglossum specimens from the 2020 bowls. Progress is being made at around 600 more bees identified to species each week. Our current trajectory puts us out at to the winter at the earliest for completion. Slowly but surely is the mantra now.

It is also the peak of spring now, so many people are getting out to sample the spring bees as part of the specialist bee project. With almost 100 species of Andrena in our area, catching the mining bees is a great way to up the species count for your site. Plus it is cool to see that you have the specialist bees at your property. If you want to participate in the specialist bee project, see:

Driving through two gates to arrive at this unassuming building in Maryland, we find a very interesting bee lab.

Another update is that last week, most of my time was actually spent driving to Maryland to visit Sam Droege and access the reference collection there. It was a fun trip despite some hiccups. We made a lot of good progress and Sam was happy to see a subset of the weird things that we have found so far. Sam and Claire at the USGS bee lab run weekly bee ID training workshops and provide many resources for bee people.

One of the best ways to identify harder groups is to compare specimens directly to reference specimens someone else has identified. It really helps to have all possible options out so you can quickly compare the various characters of each species.

I spent most of my time in Maryland going through the remaining hard Andrena that I had. Of the over 2,000 Andrena that we had from our bowl survey, we are down to only 42 that still need identified! We collected over 40 species of Andrena from the bowl traps, but we expect to find many more species in Ohio. Most Andrena are considered specialist bees, so they are less likely to land in our bowl traps (which are poor imitations of their host plants).

The last day in Maryland I spent going through the Lasioglossum synoptic collection to get more familiar with other species. Lasioglossum are a major headache, so the more experience we get with reference specimens to compare, the better.

Weird Lasioglossum:

Lasioglossum simplex is an unusual parasitic bee that has a “normal” sized cheek and a mandible without a tooth. We might get this species in Ohio, but so far no dice.

Note complete acarinial fan with no gaps

Lasioglossum smilacinae is a tricky species. It has a complete acarinial fan (as opposed to hairs widely separated on t1), a somewhat rugulose mesepisternum, “normal” clypeus, mesoscutal punctures relatively sparse between parapsidal lines, brown abdomen with basal abdominal hairs (but not an obvious apical fringe), and propodeum with dorsolateral slope only ruguloso-imbricate (not rugose with more obvious rasin-y wrinkled sections). This is hard to differentiate from Lasioglossum timothyi.

Note complete acarinial fan

Note long face

Note dense scutal punctures

Lasioglossum perpunctatum is a somewhat rare species that we might find in our samples. It is somewhat unique in that it has a long face (but not as long as the pilosum group), mesepisternum punctate to some degree, very dense punctures throughout the scutum, a complete acarinial fan, abdomen brown with a decent amount of “hair”.

Check out those orange hindlegs!

Lasioglossum tarponense is not a species we expect to find in Ohio as it is mostly only found in the far south like Florida. This distinct bee has bright orange legs which makes it look very different from most other Dialictus.

Lasioglossum taylorae I have not quite worked out. It splits out 2 ways in the 2011 Gibbs key based on the width of the head (somewhat narrow). The scutal punctures are relatively sparse in the center and metapostnotal rugae are distinct.

Lasioglossum tenax is another species that we do not expect to find in Ohio, but still nice to see examples of. It has been reported from the mountains of West Virginia though. It has a complete acarinial fan, distinct punctures on the mesepisternum, long rugae on metapostnotum, 3 submarginal cells, thoracic hairs whitish, and no metallic reflections on the abdomen.


All for now,


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