Thunderstorms bees and flowerheads

Hi Flog

This morning we split up to do task forces. I worked with some people to finish phenology (what was flowering and when) in plot one. Afterward, we planned to start more work out at Hegg Lake but no sooner had we arrived, then we were driven back to the farm by thunder, lightning, and rain.

On our way back we picked up Michael who had prudently protected himself from the storm by crouching in a ditch in “lightning position.” For those who may not know; lightning position is a special crouch that makes you completely immune to any danger associated with lightning or any other electrical Armageddon. To attain the lightning position, take a deep breath, tap your heels together three times, cover your ears and crouch down with your knees facing outwards and your butt not touching your heels. Next, remain in this position for the duration of the storm, which if it lasts for more than a few minutes, will give you a killer lower body workout.

The theory behind Lightning position is that, because you are low to the ground you won’t be struck by lightning directly; and if lightning strikes near you the electricity will travel through the ground and delicately remove your pants; without stopping your heart.  However, if you were in a normal crouch a nearby lightning strike could travel through the ground and then straight up your body; stopping your heart, without bothering about your pants at all.

After safely returning to the farm, we had a productive morning learning how to identify small solitary bees. Around 11 AM Amy Waananen’s advisors visited, and promptly identified all the bees in the house, down to species from across the room.

Andy, prepared for both rain and mosquitos

After lunch, the sun broke through the clouds and we were able to go out to an experimental plot at Hegg Lake. This plot was planted by the Echinacea project in 2006 and has provided the project with valuable research opportunities ever since, especially since it started flowering in recent years. Because it is an experimental plot researcher cut off all the flowering heads at the end of the season. This summer Dr. Jennifer Ison is conducting a study on how different types of native bees contribute to the male fitness (seeds sired) of Echinacea. This study requires only about 400 flowering plants, however, the plot did especially well this year and had over 800 flowering plants. Since conducting the study on all 800 plants (over 1800 flower heads; one plant had 15 heads) is not feasible, we were forced to cut the heads off of 300 randomly chosen plants sooner rather than later.

Video Jul 03, 4 24 21 PM

After we cut as many heads as we could for the day, we returned to the farm and planned to finish cutting flowers tomorrow.

While uploading data, Riley asked a provocative question:

If you have an Agapostemon in your hand, what is in your eye?

Upon request, I decided to tweak the lyrics to the popular song “Boys” by Charli XCX so that it is about bees. Here it is: (I encourage you to listen to the original song, both for comparison, and enjoyment).

I was busy thinking about beesX3

I was busy dreaming ‘bout beesX3

Head is spinning looking at beesX3

I need that Agapostemon to visit me on a Friday

And I need those small black bees to wake me up on a Monday

That Augochlorella can come over on Tuesday day

I want Andrena, I want ‘em all

But if they don’t visit I’m all alone yeah, I’m looking out at views of the prairie

Those rolling grasslands, and ponds.

Didn’t take a picture

I’m sorry that I missed that Stipa search (also called porcupine grass), I wish I had a better excuse like I had to fix a visor (a handheld electronic data collector) problem;

But I was busy thinking ‘bout beesX3

Head is spinning watching them beesX3

Don’t be mad, don’t be mad at me,

Darling, I can’t stop it

Even if I wanted

Don’t be mad, don’t be mad at me

Missed that Stipa searching I was miles away

Don’t be mad not like I had a choice

I was busy thinking ‘bout beesX3

I was busy dreaming ‘bout bees bees bee’ees

Head is spinning looking for bees.



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