Category: bees

25 Facts about Bees for World Bee Day. Here …

25 Facts about Bees for World Bee Day. Here is our jpg version…we also have hi-res poster printable pdf and ppt versions along with original individual posts from last year at:
Pass along and do 1 good thing for bees today.

Here is a male Anthophora affabilis…aga…

Here is a male Anthophora affabilis…again from our work in Badlands National Park in South Dakota.   


You can see where I got tired of photoshopping out all the lint, scales, and dust on the right (the bee’s left) antennae.  We have to prep these specimens or deal with sometimes overwhelming amount of de linting.  It turns out that when we use our small flashes..that all the dust just pops into brightness and it really has an impact on the picture.   An impact in the same way that you might not “see” the smudges on the light switches in someone’s home, but you “feel” the dirtiness and unconsciously lay down some disrespect.  Same here.  Photo by the wonderful Kamren Jefferson.



It is Spring in the Northern Hemisphere! Even more good news is that the bee population has actually been climbing back up and they have been doing very well this year so far!

Which means you are more likely to see an increase of honeybee activity! Especially if you live near any open fields, orchards, or even just a lot of flowering plants!

When a new queen is born into a hive and becomes mature, she takes a lot of workers with her to find a new hive! But the queens are somewhat fat and not very strong fliers! So they stop and rest while scouts find a new spot for a hive! This is called swarming and looks something like this!

This is NOT a hive! If you see this behavior in bees, rest assured that they will likely be gone within the next few days once they find a spot for their hive! They don’t want to be there any more than you want them to be!

Sometimes they pick very inconvenient spots to swarm and understandably you want them gone as soon as possible! Luckily there is a humane way if removing them is your only option!

Call your local apiaries (beekeepers) and ask what options they have for humane swarm removal! Many pest control companies also have a humane option to transport a swarm to an apiary!

(About apiaries: Kept bees are actually very healthy and well taken care of and their contribution actually made a great impact in restoring the honeybee population!)

Remember to be good to our hard working little sisters! Don’t panic if you see a swarm, they will be gone before you know it!

And if I catch you hurting a swarm… bees will be the least of your problems!

-Captain Planet

A bit of a prairie drama queen. Dianthidium …

A bit of a prairie drama queen. 

Dianthidium ulkei, adds twinklespark to ochraceous dry greens of the prairie matrix in the Badlands. 

But… only if you get down there at their level. Now you can bear witness that the little beings not only are running the world , but already have discovered all the designs, color combinations, and shapes we think we created and put them into Mother Nature designer packages that would blow your socks off. Woof. Boom. We think we are soooo smart. Pictures by Kamren Jefferson.

Exomalopsis similis floats around the Caribbea…

Exomalopsis similis floats around the Caribbean.  

Florida, the islands, Mexico, Central America. 

A weedy species, found in urban, disturbed and other human dominated locales.  It’s also small, thought its big brush of pollen carrying hairs is reminiscent of its larger cousins such as Melissodes and Svastra.  In the small bee circuit of the Caribbean you have bees that have no pollen collecting hairs because they carry it internally (Hylaeus), others that have only teeny amounts of hair (Ceratina), and others with the usual moderate hairness (Lasioglossum) and then this tiny speck of a dust mop.  Clearly they must be doing different things, using different pollens, using different collection techniques….but it is all so under or not studied.   Yet,  millions of these insect motes continue to transport and paste Caribbean pollen in an ageless ongoing grand dance without any support from us.   We mow them, plow their nests, spray them, plant lawns and yet they persist and continue their work without complaint or recompense.  We are pretty lucky with all that, you know.  Careful though, there must be a point where they are so marginalized as to drop out of this planet.

Guantanamo Bay Military Base, GTMO is many thi…

Guantanamo Bay Military Base, GTMO is many things, all the military groups are there, and, it turns out, over one quarter of Cuba’s bees.  There is lovely cactus dry scrub on the base and that has a number of lovely bees such as this female Centris poecila.  Photographed by Sierra Williams.  

We didn’t write down where this bee came…

We didn’t write down where this bee came from, but here you have Anthophora occidentalis.  

This species follows one of the universal North American rules.  That rule says that you can either live west of the 100th meridian or east of the 100th meridian, but not both.  Our friend here chose west.  Now this patterns is, on the surface, odd, as, of course, one can simply fly or walk wherever one chooses in North America (if you are not a human), but this was not always the case as in various geological periods inland waterways separated the West from the East and, perhaps, helped stratify our species pool into the East/West restrictions we see today.  But then again, I really don’t know what I am talking about and these splits may have been inevitable given the climate, topography, and soils of the continent.  I think the former is more romantic and so am not going to bother to look up someone else’s more evidence-based, jargon riddled, biogeographic theory.  Picture by Brooke Alexander.

A lovely Nomada (N. krugii) from the Dominican…

A lovely Nomada (N. krugii) from the Dominican Republic, one I collected with Sean Brady on expedition.  

Sometimes I am just overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of species of bees in the world.  The diversity, the forms, the many life history strategies, and the relationship with most of the plants of the world; all this cooking and evolving, with each yearly generation of bees, probing and integrating with flowering plants, all parties gaming the system to maximize their biological and fitness needs.  Its like a living experiment, something no computer could model or recreate.  Thousands of small insect and plant people living and dying in individual experiments along with layers of parasites, diseases, and predators that also much be accommodated, climbing higher and higher into greater and greater complexity.  How interesting that in our systems we strive for simplicity.  One crop on a section of land with every living thing but that crop stripped from the system.  Then again, if we weren’t so efficient in our agriculture perhaps we would have destroyed all our natural areas by now to meet out needs for food.  We are not immune from the factors that control the fitness of wild bees and plants, one just wonders where that chain will end.

Hoplitis truncata.   A relatively uncommon bee…

Hoplitis truncata.   A relatively uncommon bee, that shows up here and there with no apparent pattern that I can see.  You can see a nice view of the long tongue this species has to extract nectar from deep-throated flowers.  Picture by Kamren Jefferson.  Bee from Dave Smith’s malaise trap samples form Hardy County, West Virginia.

A large and dark Andrena hilaris. These mini…

A large and dark Andrena hilaris. These mining bees are bees of spring blooming woody plants. They usually not found on spring understory forbs like some of their kin. This one is dark for an Andrena and often spottable in trees simply by the dark colored wings and large size. Photograph by Kamren Jefferson.