also! I've been meaning to ask-- I know you study bees, but what are the particulars of your research? anything interesting you can share about bees?
Oh gosh. I’ve done a whole bunch with bees… I’ve helped with several diversity studies, floral resource and body size studies, and pesticide studies (in an agricultural setting); looked at native bees’ role in agricultural pollination; and have done a whooooooole lot of pinning and identifying. I’ve worked with bees from all over Wyoming, Connecticut, and the Central Valley of California. I’ve never studied honeybees, just natives (which I think are far more interesting, call me a bee snob…). I, myself, am particularly interested in plant-bee relationships, and bee taxonomy and systematics, and hope to pursue something of the sort in grad school fairly soon.
Anything interesting?! I could talk about bees for weeks, so I’ll just name a few things. :)
- An estimated 200 species can be found around Laramie alone (and 4,000 species in North America!).
- Bees are incredibly diverse in appearance. There are huge super fuzzy bees (Bombus), smaller super fuzzy bees (Melissodes is a common one around Laramie), teeny tiny wasp-ish bees (Hylaeus), brilliantly metallic slender bright green bees (Agapostemon), robust metallic purplish/blue bees (Osmia), fat little yellow and black bees (Anthidum), super tiny dark metallic bees (Ceratina and some Lasioglossum), and soooo many more!
- Bumblebees are the only native eusocial (i.e. like honeybees) bee in North America. Some sweat bees can be loosely social (the degree to which they are social depends a lot on resource availability). Some ground nesting bees will aggregate into little colonies (which I obviously like to call Bee Towns), but each female has her own nest. Most bees are completely solitary.
- Generally, a native solitary female bee will only lay around 30 eggs in her lifetime, which is an incredibly low number for an insect.
- Bees’ nests also vary a whole bunch. Bumblebees (Bombus) nest underground, sometimes utilizing an abandoned rodent home. Other bees such as Andrena, Colletes, and most Halictids (sweat bees) are also ground nesters. Some bees, like Osmia, will nest in holes they in old stumps, logs, or hollow reeds. Osmia line their nests and form the cells with mud or clay they collect and shape. Megachile (leaf-cutter bees) form their nests from pieces of leaves or petals they clip off with their powerful jaws. Bees like Anthidium like to use plant hairs to line their nests. Xylocopa (carpenter bees, sadly do not live in Wyoming) and Ceratina will bore holes in wood for their nests. While Bombus form brood cells kind of like honeybees, solitary bee nests usually consist of a single tunnel of varying length. The eggs will be laid individually in stacked cells, each provisioned with a lovely pollen ball. When the tunnel is filled, the mama bee will seal off the top and let the babies develop.
- Bees have different ways of collecting pollen. Honeybees and bumblebees have a large concave disk on their hind legs called corbicula that they use to form pollen balls. Most other native bees have specialized hairs called scopa. Scopa are usually long, highly branched hairs that trap pollen. Scopa are usually on the legs of bees, but one family in particular (and my favorite), Megachilidae, has their scopa on the undersides of their abdomens (they wiggle their little butts around on flowers, it is the CUTEST).
- Male bees do not have scopa (but can be fuzzy and definitely still pollinate). Male bees are lazy and only care about feeding themselves and sex. But gosh, are they adorable.
- Some bees, often called cuckoo bees, are kleptoparasitic and do not have scopa. They find their host bees’ nests and lay their own eggs in the already provisioned cells. The host larvae is eaten by either the adult or the larval cuckoo bee. Some genera of western cuckoo bees are Nomada, Triepeolus, Melecta, and Coelioxys. One of the coolest examples of cuckoo bees are a subgenus of Bombus, Psithyrus, but they are so freaking cool they probably deserve their own post…
Okay. That was probably entirely too much for a sane person to read. If anyone has more questions, I can’t guarantee that I’ll know the answer, but I can try!
I’ll leave you with this picture of a Lasioglossum (Dialictus) female that I took a couple years ago. She’s probably about 6ish mm long. :)
Bee Hotels for Solitary Bees
You may be wondering what bees need a hotel for, when they make their own hives. The truth is that many species of bees are solitary – the do not live in hives but instead construct their own nest. The main reason for this is because in these species every female is fertile and this would not make for comfortable communal living in a hive.
Bees you are so cute.
Solitary bees meeting at solitary bee hotels and falling in love
I’ve reblogged this before c’mon.
Bee hotel …
Will always reblog bee hotel and the cuuutest little male Megachile! I really do think it’s my favorite genus…
Western Bumblebee (Bombus occidentalis)- San Francisco, CA
Sadly, this is definitely not Bombus occidentalis. They have very distinctive black faces. This is most likely the (much) more common B. vosnesenskii, or one of the the less common look-a-likes. If you do see a B. occidentalis (and even better, if you photograph one), record when and where you saw it, and let the Xerces Society know! More info (including identification info) can be found here: http://www.xerces.org/western-bumble-bee/
Omggggg! Little Megachilid of some sort? Those big green eyes! So cute!
#seriously look at it
#gimme that bee
The Neon Cuckoo Bee (Thyreus nitidulus) is a parasitic bee, in the family, found in Australia, Papua New Guinea, and SE Asia . It is a stocky bee, notable for its brilliant metallic blue and black banded colors. Like all bees, the neon cuckoo bee is covered by furry branched flattened hair, which is responsible for both the black and blue colours.
The female neon cuckoo bee seeks out the burrow nests of the blue-banded bee (Amegilla cingulata), and lays an egg into a partly completed brood cell while it is unguarded. The larval cuckoo bee then consumes the larder and later emerges from the cell…
(read more: Encyclopedia of Life)
photos: T - John Tann; B - Louise Docker
UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH, DREAM BEEEEEEEEE