2021 update: Pollinator fidelity and prescribed burns

This summer, Team Echinacea investigated whether there was a difference in pollinator fidelity in bees caught in eight burned remnant prairies and eighteen unburned remnant prairies. This experiment used the proportion of Echinacea angustifolia pollen carried by bees as they foraged on an E. angustifolia capitulum as a proxy for fidelity. 

The 2021 bee collectors included the entirety of the team, and bees were collected between June 28th and July 20th. Upon visiting a remnant prairie, we attempted to capture at least three bees of the taxa Augochlorella aurata, Agapostemon virescens, and Halictus spp. We removed the pollen from the body and scopae separately and created microscope slides which were later used to identify the species carried by the bees based on morphology. After wiping them of their pollen, the bees were released back to the sites where they were caught.

  • Start year: 2021
  • Location: 26 remnant prairies
  • Overlaps with: NA
  • Data collected: Each bee was assigned a unique number from 101 to 192, and the scopae or body pollen was differentiated with either a B or an S (ex: 101S and 101B). The site, taxa, Echinacea tag number, date, and time of day were recorded for each bee caught. All heterospecific flower species in bloom at the site on the day it was visited for bee collection were noted on a spreadsheet.
    • The data collected on the bees can be found here:
    • The form containing the blooming heterospecific flower species can be found here:
  • Samples collected: 92 bees were caught and released and 89 were released back to the site where they were caught. 184 microscope slides were created with the pollen collected from the bees. These slides are being stored in Dr. Ison’s lab at the College of Wooster. A sample of each of the heterospecific flowers found at each was collected to create a pollen library. The slides created for the pollen library are also stored in Dr. Ison’s lab at the College of Wooster.
  • Products: Report to be compiled this spring!

Marking and measuring

This morning, Miyauna and I set out to visit some of the remnants in search of bees. We started our search at Woodys, and all of our good bee thoughts must have paid off because we found many bees foraging on the purple prairie clover scattered throughout the remnant. Here we ran some tests for the bee abundance portion of the insect project, namely testing out the methods for Miyauna’s mark and recapture study. We caught three Augochlorella auratas and one Halictus, set them in the cooler, and waited patiently for them to fall asleep. When they were asleep we were able to mark their backs with dabs of paint, which ideally would serve as indicators of previous captures. We soon discovered that the paint we used wasn’t ideal for the job, as the first bee we painted had no problem peeling the paint off of her thorax upon waking. We’re hoping a quicker drying paint may solve this problem. Fingers crossed!

We had some time to spare, so we checked out some other remnants to catch bees for my pollinator fidelity project. North railroad crossing and northwest landfill both yielded no bees, but we were able to catch one at golf course! As Echinacea progresses beyond peak flowering, bee sightings on heads are becoming increasingly rare.

During lunch we heard great presentations from both Amy, who discussed her plant isolation project, and Jared, who gave some summary statistics from the 361 hours the team has spent taking phenology data. Afterwords the team headed over to p7 and p9 to do some measuring of Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea pallida hybrids. With such a great view of the lake, I didn’t even mind the heat!

Happy Andespendence Day!

By the dawn’s early light, I was once again out on the hunt for bees. As soon as I arrived at East of Town Hall I secured my first catch, which, after a morning of searching, turned out to be my last. I returned to Andes with the single bee in tow, wiped her of her pollen, and released her on the way to laundry day at the Elk Lake House.

After laundry the Andes crew returned home for a pizza dinner and Pirates of the Caribbean. To partake in the 4th festivities, the four of us climbed up the ski slope and got a full view of the firework display. From our vantage point, we had an unobstructed 360 degree view of the fireworks in the surrounding towns, not to mention font row seats to the sunset– it was definitely worth the hike. Stay tuned tomorrow for a continuation of the celebration!

A very buzz-y Monday

After a rowdy weekend of off-road races at Andes, I started off the week by gathering data for my independent project for the first time. In the morning I headed out with Jennifer to Loeffler’s Corner East and West to catch bees as they pollinated the flowering Echinacea heads. We noted any flowering plants of other species as well and collected samples of their pollen.

After catching four bees from each site and chilling them in the fridge, I got to work scraping the pollen off each bees’ legs and stomachs. Once I was satisfied with the scraping and had deposited the pollen in its respective receptacle, I toted the bees back to where I found them and released them. It was bittersweet to say goodbye, but they’re probably happier buzzing amongst the Echinacea than with me in the basement of Hjelm.

The pollen I scraped off was then mixed with a dab of fuchsin jelly melted onto a microscope slide. This made the the tiny pollen grains stand out more under the scope. After each pollen sample was accounted for I began to do the same with pollen collected from the flowers in the field, as this will one day comprise my pollen reference library. Can’t wait to go out and catch more tomorrow!

Day 2: Tagging and Flagging

Another successful field day in the books! I started out the day by joining a group at KJs to learn some demography techniques on some freshly emerged echinacea sprouts. KJs was one of the remnants that was burned in the spring, so there was plenty of bare ground for us to practice our
“active searching silly walk.” Our first mission upon arriving at KJs was to find as many flowering echinacea heads as we could and mark them with red flags.

Once they were all marked, we were able to go back and gather demography data, like the amount of flowering heads and rosettes a single plant had, and once all our data was recorded we could switch out the red flags for neon ones. Before heading back to Hjelm for lunch we decided to explore Elk Lake Road East and check how many flowering echinaceas we could find. Though this site was significantly larger than KJs, we weren’t able to find nearly as many flowering heads (I unfortunately didn’t find any at all).

After lunch the whole team gathered to listen to presentations from both Ruth, who described the interconnectedness of genetics and environmental factors on an organism’s phenotype, and Jared, who taught us why fires are so important to some prairie plants and introduced a few unanswered questions that the team could attempt to pursue.

For our final activity of the day, the team once again split up to work on different projects. My group headed out to P1 with Mia to do some flag maintenance. After much flag replacement and meter stick wielding, we were able to cover the entirety of the P1 plot with four minutes to spare!

Looking forward to another prairie perusal tomorrow!

Maris Woldin

Echinacea Project 2021

Biology Major, College of Wooster 2022

Research Interests

I am interested in learning all I can about plant and insect interactions and using this knowledge to inform conservation efforts. I especially like bees, and I’m excited to gain some new identification skills this summer!


I am from Louisville, Kentucky. In my free time I like to find new places to hike, hang out with my dogs, bake, and watch as many movies as I can.