August Bee Update – Sandy Bees!

Hi everyone,

We have made good progress over the last few weeks. The number of remaining Lasioglossum boxes continue to dwindle. We started with over 22,000 Lasioglossum in March and are now down to under 8,000 Lasioglossum remaining! This can be visually represented by our Lasioglossum rack, which we entirely cleared and then refilled with the last remaining boxes of Lasioglossum. So what you see is what we have left to do.

Our progress as of the end of July. We had another rack with more Lasioglossum, so these got moved up.

We moved all the remaining Lasioglossum to this shelf, so you can now watch the remaining progress. These were moved at the end of July.

Our most recent progress showing all the boxes of remaining Lasioglossum on the bottom


I had also given the Hylaeus bees to the grad students to identify. With a little over 1,300 specimens, they made quick work of identifying them! Now to have those transferred into drawers for long term storage.

Example photo showing a female Hylaeus. These black and yellow bees look like tiny wasps. They carry pollen inside of their stomach and thus lack the normal pollen collecting hairs of other bees. These bees are easily overlooked by beginning bee enthusiasts, but we found many in our bowl traps.


We also ordered a shipment of drawers and cabinets to store our bees. The pizza boxes were always meant to be short term storage, so it is nice to have an additional 50 drawers for better long term storage! It took a bit, but our pallet of drawers was delivered to Columbus and is now awaiting transfer to the Newark campus.

3 cabinets and 50 USNM drawers all packed onto a single pallet from Canada!

I’m excited for the drawers, as these are what we will use to turn specimens in to the museum for long term archival. They are lightweight, sturdy, and hopefully keep dermestids out, or at least keep them out better than cardboard pizza boxes.


In between all the Lasioglossum identification, I have been doing periodic field work days. I managed to get a permit to a site with abundant sand, so I was happy to see several bees that are only known to nest in sand. As a quick refresher: 30% of bees nest in cavities, whereas the remaining 70% nest in the soil. Some bees are not picky about their soil type that they will use, but others can be really particular about the exact soil. There are many bees that are only known from sandy habitats and therefore thought to nest in sand. These include a few species of Lasioglossum, which often also have orange abdomens.

I had a few of these orange Lasioglossum checking me out last weekend. I couldn’t tell if they were interested in my sweat or if they were interested in my bright orange backpack. Either way, still nice to see.

There are several other groups of bees that are associated with sand, but that will be a topic for another post. If you happen to have a sandy area near you, it is worth checking out to see what weird bees you can find!

All for now,

MaLisa

 

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