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.
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.
Did you know that you can identify Dragonflies by their sheds?
Yes you can.
And, along rivers you can collect their sheds and create quite the monitoring program. This specimen of Tramea carolina (Carolina Saddlebags) and such a monitoring program were both found by Richard Orr. Photo by Ben Walsh.
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.
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
Part Male: Park Female.
Here is a lovely example. In this case the intersex section is restricted to the head. This is a Nomada of the pygmaea group. pygmaea group indicates that this is probably a group of species, but….I can’t tell them apart. Long story. In any case, this cool specimen was found by Don Harvey in the sand area of Jug Bay Wetlands Reserve on the sand side of the Patuxent River in Maryland. It was flying with a big group of its normal compatriots who almost certainly were checking out the Andrena miserabilis nesting there and all were out for an early spring warm spell. Look at the picture…red side of the head is female, yellow/black is male. Female has 12 antennal segments, male – 13. Photos by Anders Croft.
A couple of shots of Andrena asteris.
Turns out the species is, indeed, an aster specialist. Not particularly common, unless you spend a lot of time looking at asters. If you spend a lot of time looking at willows then good luck finding this species Kiddo. Photo by Wayne Boo.
Gliding in from Costa Rica comes a moderately large, moderately green bee.
An Agapostemon nasutus.
There are a lot of the these bright green bees out there…Not just in C.R. but throughout the Americas. Beautiful, and once you start paying attention, quite common. But are there any songs written about them? No. Poems? Zero. Green Bee Secret Societies? Nope. This just seems wrong. Sorry, its late at night and am feeling the breath of native bee injustice. This series was taken by Kelly Graninger and Anders Croft. The bee, collected by our own Tim McMahon.
An uncommon nest parasite of the genus Osmia.
This one from Maine, where lots of Osmia hang out. Rarely found, but does this mean they are “rare”??? Probably not, likely there are thousands upon thousands produced each year across North America. We just aren’t paying attention. Sad. Photo by Brooke Alexander.
A new state record for Virginia.
This is Dianthidium simile.
A sand lover and found for the first time by the folks in Virginia Heritage Group. I believe it was found on Fort A.P Hill Army base. Military Bases are often great places for insects given that they are usually found on “bad” land not used for agriculture, don’t build on every square inch, and continue to train and disturb that areas without plowing them completely up. Case in point here. Photo by Erick Hernandez.