Bee Team, way better than the A Team

Hey everyone,

We’ve been working at organizing and analyzing our data and just wanted to share some of the highlights with all of you and give some tips for next year’s bee squad.

– 9 bee genera recorded
– 72 bees painted
– 258 bees recorded
– 330 flights recorded
– 831 head visits recorded

We’ll post some nice flight maps once we have them put together (Denise is quickly becoming an R expert).

And now some advice for next year…

– For us, it worked well to set 15 minute observation/catching time blocks and to then check on all of the bees in the cooler after those 15 minutes. That way we weren’t trying to catch and track new bees while also trying to paint and track our already caught bees.
– We liked standing two ice packs up in the cooler with the glass vials standing up in between them. This made it easy to see the labeled lids and also preventing the bees from crawling into the lid where it took them much longer to cool down. But be sure to check on the bees frequently because they get colder much faster this way than if the vials were just lying underneath an icepack.
– We placed the bees on a Petri dish to paint them, which gave us a sturdy base for holding them. And of course made use of last year’s paint holsters (made from duct tape and eppendorf tubes) and painting tools (bent section of wire from a flag, sanded and attached by duct tape to a stick as a handle).
– We opted for paper forms over visors, which we liked, but there needs to be a better way to keep track of several bees at once. Having 2 recorders made a huge difference when the bees were active and we had enough people. We could get by with just 2 people on windy/rainy/generally mellow days, but having more was helpful. We’d recommend 2 recorders and at least 4 observers on busy days.
– Somehow none of us had a watch and had to rely on Denise’s cell phone. A watch might be more convenient…
– For the first day or two, it might be a good idea to take the bees back to the Hjelm house and ID them with the bee box.
– Silver and lavender look very similar once they’re on a bee, and it can be hard to tell between silver and white on a bee that was painted a few days before. Likewise, aqua, light blue, and green can be easily confused.

The bees we saw this year were:
– Ceratina calcarata (tiny, black, vertical white line on face)
– Pterosaurus albitarsis, sadly renamed something much less cool (light yellow “W��? shape on face)
– Agapostemon virescens (metallic green head with striped thorax and abdomen)
– Augochlorella striata (whole body is metallic green, but a much smaller bee)
– Melissodes (we saw a few different species, two of which aren’t in the bee box)
– Megachile (the best way to describe their front legs is burly. If I remember correctly, these guys are pretty hairy too)
– Halictus rubicundus (looking at the bee box will give you a more detailed description than I can)
– Dialictus (many different species of tiny black bees. Too small to paint or ID in the field)
– Apis mellifera (Honey bees! The first time Stuart has ever seen a living one on an Echinacea head. They cool down much faster than the other bees, so be careful with them. Also, we got the sense that they mostly hung out on alfalfa and rarely on Echinacea, so that could be an interesting thing to look into)

That’s all for now. We hope you guys are having a great time and getting a lot of measuring done. Stuart, if you have a chance we’d love to get those photos you took on the 17th so we can try to match them up to specific flights. And Megan, thanks for the homemade candy bars!


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