Ohio Bee Survey update, and free Bee Guide!

The Ohio Bee Survey kicked off in 2020 with the goal of identifying all of Ohio’s bee fauna. While other states have conducted surveys of wild bees, this is the first survey undertaken in Ohio.

Although Covid-19 changed the survey strategies and methods of volunteer training, we were still able to recruit and train 154 bee collectors across Ohio in 2020. Instead of in person meetings to train collectors and distribute survey kits, participants were trained via live Zoom webinars conducted by survey director MaLisa Spring. Despite university closures and shipment challenges, survey kits were compiled and mailed to participants in each of Ohio’s 88 counties in April and May. Specimen collection began in May and continued weekly through September for most collectors. Drop-off days were held in October across the state to provide safe (socially-distanced) opportunities for collectors to submit samples.

To keep our collectors motivated and updated, MaLisa posted weekly updates on the Ohio Bee Survey website. Bee collectors (and assorted bee fans) looked forward to these lively, informative updates to learn more about what bees (and bycatch) were collected in 2020. Here, MaLisa’s post includes use of a grain of rice for a size comparison:

Rice, bees and thrips

Rice for scale really throws you for a loop when you realize that a dull green sweat bee (Dialictus sp) is about the same size as a grain of rice.

In total, 118 collectors returned kits with frozen samples. The bees (and other collected critters) were transferred to Dr. Karen Goodell’s lab at OSU Newark for pinning and identification. This process will likely take 18 months due to the volume of collected bees and the Covid-19 limits on volunteers and students working together to process samples.

As an exciting offshoot of the survey, one of our bee collectors with impressive graphic design skills worked with MaLisa Spring to create a bee field guide, Bees of Ohio: A Field Guide. This guide will be invaluable to train and support collectors, students and bee enthusiasts in Ohio. Many thanks to Amy Schnebelin for taking lead on the field guide project!

And many thanks to all our survey participants for your work on the Ohio Bee Survey!

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