Did you know that over 4,000 types of bees live in North America? Some of the best-known bees are honey bees and bumble bees that live in colonies. These species have a queen and many workers that take care of the colony by collecting pollen and nectar to feed developing bees, or larvae. There are also many species of solitary bees that do not live together in colonies, but instead build individual nests in the soil, hollow twigs, or even in wooden decks or roofs! All bees rely on flowers that produce pollen and nectar as their food source and need to collect these resources to feed their developing larvae. Bees get the energy they need from the carbohydrates in nectar, and the protein they need to grow from pollen. As bees collect pollen and nectar from flowers, they provide humans with a critical ecosystem service by pollinating our crops and the trees and flowers we see outside. Without bees, our forests and gardens would lose many types of plants, and we would not be able to eat fruits, vegetables, or nuts like apples, squash, or almonds.
Unfortunately, many types of bees are declining in the United States and scientists want to know why! One possibility is that bees do not have enough food to eat. Weeds could be an important food source for bees and other insects like butterflies, beetles and ants. We need your help as part of our scientific team to see if bees and other insects will feed from common weeds in a yard. If so, these weeds might not be all bad after all! We are focusing on nectar in this experiment because it provides insects with energy to do all the things they need to do to survive. Will you join our team and become a Dandelion Detective?
Watch Dr. Mary Gardiner present about the history of lawns, their ecological role, and the Dandelion Detectives project in the webinar below!
Dandelion Detectives is supported by the OSU Integrated Pest Management Program through funding from the USDA NIFA Crop Protection and Pest Management Competitive Grants Program (2017-70006-27174).