Category: insects

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

Fuzzy Friday. A fuzzy Anthophora is hard to …

Fuzzy Friday. A fuzzy Anthophora is hard to beat. Here is a past picture of a male Anthophora affabilis. A western bee caught at the very edge of its distribution in the Badlands of South Dakota. Remind me to publish those results….loads of interesting distributional records. Thanks. Photo by Kamren Jefferson.

Intersex. \

Intersex. \


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.      

Bedraggled Bee.  

Bedraggled Bee.  

We picture here Colletes willistoni, with mussy hair, something Colletes are prone to.  For me this is mostly irritating, in that they don’t clean up well for their pictures, for the bees, well, its hard to say, they are an old lineage and apparently great looking hair under all conditions was not their evolutionary priority.  A tricky to id clade in Colletes, in the Midwest.  Found along the road, in one of my favorite parts of the world.  The Nebraska Sandhills.

Gliding in from Costa Rica comes a moderately …

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.

A common spring western Andrena.

A common spring western Andrena.

Andrena prunorum

More colorful than the average dark chocolate Andrena (fuscous is what the old timers would call it).    

Quite reddish in its integument in spots and a nice yellow clypeus as in this male.  Collected in the fabulous Badlands National Park in South Dakota. Photo by Kelly Graninger.

The white-margined burrower bug.  

The white-margined burrower bug.  

Scientifically we would call it Sehirus cinctus.  

Small, feeds on mints and nettles.  Not picky, feeds on the weedy mints that inhabit our weedy lawns.  Sticks around a bit and helps its babies out for a few days.  Unusual for a bug.  Picture by Greta Forbes.  This specimen found at the lab at Patuxent.  I like the patterns of pits on this guy.

A new state record for Virginia. This is Dia…

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.

Prionyx thomae. A wasp that is a left-handed…

Prionyx thomae

A wasp that is a left-handed cousin of bees. 

This is a common one, found throughout North and South America. This grasshopper hunting wasp was found on the military base of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Kamren Jefferson took this shot. In looking closely I can see some doubling of the some of the hairs near the anterior end of the thorax. Not something we would tolerate now, but something that most people would miss, so this lovely shot stays !

Our probably most iconic and used photograph…

Our probably most iconic and used photograph. 

It is now so widely used that most of the time it no longer even carries any association with our lab. 

So bee it! 

This is Halictus ligatus. Covered in sunflower pollen, collected in Morris Arboretum outside of Philadelphia as part of a bee study by Stephanie Wilson. Clearly demonstrating why bees are hairy.