Author: USGS Native Bee Lab

Ugly Bee…For sure, but an interesting o…

Ugly Bee…For sure, but an interesting one. 

 Brooke Goggins took this one on a grayish background to highlight the wings of this Andrena nasonii.   T

his specimen was collected by Gabriel Karns as part of a study of rights of way in eastern Ohio.  We noticed that it has some funny vein business going on. Look at the wing, on the outer edge the last cell towards the tip is called the marginal cell (because it is on the margin) below that are what appears to be 2 or so cells…these are sub-marginal cells.  However, in this species there should be 3 not 2 sub-marginals.  You can see that the veins that would fraction off the additional cell are either partial or just a stub on each side.  Gene Scarpulla just published a paper on the topic…such things occur periodically in the bee world to add a layer of trickiness for us bee identifiers.

Well, someone has to take pictures of all thes…

Well, someone has to take pictures of all these small metallic Lasioglossums.   

This is L. flaveriae.  A Deep South species.  I associate it with southern, piney flatlands,  but it is based on partial understandings.  

Bees are so tiny and we look under Mother Nature’s hood in so few places.  This makes every collecting trip a grand adventure and it means its is often difficult to divine what bees might be in trouble and what …might not.  Once again, the fabulous Kamren Jefferson took this picture in 2013.      

Another mid-summer Colletes from the central p…

Another mid-summer Colletes from the central prairies.  

Note the “cute” face with the inner edges of the eyes converging towards the mouth.  

For some reason this automatically makes a bee cute compared to the standard bee face format that most species display.  I am note sure of the preferences of this species but many Colletes use pollen from only a small number of plants.  Biodiversity …check.  Pictures by Anders Croft.

Colletes kinkaidii

Small Fuzzy Diadaasia diminuta.  

Small Fuzzy Diadaasia diminuta.  

This little fur ball, is a globe mallow specialist.  

I would tell you more but I am too tired after trying to beat back invasives all day in the yard to say any more.   A lovely day though all the bees finally are emerging, including my first queen bumbles.  This little poof is from the Badlands National Park in South Dakota.  Pictures taken by Kelly Graninger and Anders Croft.    

Fuzzy, round-headed, and big are a pretty good…

Fuzzy, round-headed, and big are a pretty good short cut to the ID of Diadasia bees.   Westerners, they, in a very casual pocket prairie sort of way make East of the Mississippi River.   The bulk of the population  is in dry natural areas from the middle prairies to the West.  Here is a common one from our work in the Badlands of South Dakota.  At times, you can find them nesting in aggregations in completely unvegetated open soils as we did these.  Slightly cuddly, I think.    

Diadasia australis

Another one of those metallic Lasioglossums in…

Another one of those metallic Lasioglossums in the Dialictus group….

so similar until you look at them under the microscope …

where they continue to look so similar.  

It is a world of nuance to us, but somehow many Lasioglossum species evolve, do different things, partition the sexual universe and become species.  I am so grateful to get to know this tiny part of the universe .. .a place veiled to me for most of my life and now I have been given a small look at what seems to be infinite complexity.   This bee is from coastal St. John’s County in Florida.  Photo by Kamren Jefferson.  

Oh, yes, this is L. tamiamense.

Darn are we  behind…this one was made i…

Darn are we  behind…this one was made in 2013 and depicts a Lasioglossum tarponense from one of the National Park Service Units we surveyed in St. John’s County in Florida.  

Its a Deep South, Deep Sand species.  Often found on the coast, but usually not right in the dunes.   Note the unusually red orange legs.  A nice feature for this species as it eliminates about 95% of all the other Lasioglossum species that are about that size and shape.  It would be nice to spend a day hanging out with these bees and getting to know what they do.  Natural history like this is so simple, but somehow it is never done, the notion of simply watching a bee all day is not nearly as attractive as watching TV all day.  Odd.

Bees Learn to Drive Very Small Cars.

Bees Learn to Drive Very Small Cars.

Scientists capitalized on recent revelations that bees are a lot smarter than previously thought.  In addition to being able to count and solve simple puzzles USGS scientists at the Patuxent Native Bee Lab have taught bees to driver miniaturized automobiles.  Using rewards such as flower smoothies and honey laced with addictive pollens, bees were gradually induced to drive in order to continue receiving their rewards.  The study came to an unfortunate ending when one of the lab assistants was overwhelmed by angry bees who felt that the researchers were holding back on their pollen loads.   Future plans are in the work to use less coercive methods and talks are in progress with several bee advocacy groups.    For release on April 1, 2019k  Photo by Brooke Goggins

In the  spring, this species (Andrena cressoni…

In the  spring, this species (Andrena cressonii) can show up almost anywhere in the Mid-Atlantic and throughout much of the country.  

Common, but rarely abundant.  

The vibe on this male is:  wide head, yellow on the clypeus and yellow in the parocular area (this is area between the central clypeus and compound eyes). 

See if you can drop the term “parocular” in a conversation later today, to lock this term in.  You could mention, for example,  to your favorite person “you are looking at little yellow in your paroculars”… gentling increasing your interpersonal bonding.  Learning about bees has wider positives than most people realize. Photo by Brooke Alexander.  

Lipotriches kondeana.  A bee from South Africa…

Lipotriches kondeana.  A bee from South Africa, Kruger National Park.  Collected on expedition with James Harrison and Jonathan Mawdsley.  

A series of pictures from Silas Bossert from the National Collection at the Smithsonian.  They use their own hi res camera equipment, but prefer a light background.