August 2022 Bulletin

Cheyenne and Josh present at BSA, #BeesAroundTheWorld, Emotional bees, Solutions for hot phones, MDC photo contest winner, and Our Native Bees book review

RESULTS! by Josh Felton

Josh, Cheyenne, and Nicole just returned from the Botanical Society of America Meeting in Anchorage, Alaska. Cheyenne and Josh both presented analyses of the Shutterbee data, and I have to say, we have some cool results! The next couple of bulletins, we will share a short summary of their results. First up, Josh Felton’s project on:

The effect of backyard conservation in urban bee visitation networks

Gardeners (like many of our lovely Shutterbee participants) are land managers that can transform their yards to better support biodiversity. Indeed, residential gardens make up 30% of green space in cities and can contribute to the conservation of wild organisms. The introduction of non-native plant species and low flower density favor generalist pollinators. Meaning, more specialized pollinators that visit only a small subset of plant species are less common in cities. That, in and of itself, is important for conservation, but foraging behavior can also influence the structure and stability of the whole community (known as networks).

Networks with more specialized foragers tend to be more modular, which is when species within a group (or module) are more likely to interact with each other than with those outside their module (like clicks in human social groups). In an ecological setting, more clicks are better – it implies that there are more specialist pollinators. I tested whether modularity of bee-plant visitation networks in gardens differs depending on whether or not they are enrolled in the Bring Conservation Home Program, which helps facilitate native plant gardening and invasive species removal.

Residential gardens that were enrolled in the BCH program had higher modularity than gardens not in the program, suggesting that they support more specialized foragers and may be more resistant to future perturbations. That means, your efforts as gardeners and landscape managers are effective, regardless of how “urban” your neighborhood is! Improving pollinator habitat in smaller green spaces can supplement larger-scale plans as more and more of the global population move into urban landscapes.

Bees around the world

Vacations are great. You get to see new sights, eat new foods, meet great people, and (most importantly) search for bees that you won’t find in our neck of the woods. We recently got this (likely) yellow head bumble bee (B. flavifrons) photo that Shutterbee participant Janice Rifkin took in Vancouver, Canada. Many western species of bumble bees look very similar and, unlike midwestern bees, often cannot be identified to species via photographs on the wing. No matter who she is, she’s a beaut! #BeesAroundTheWorld


If you take any (or have taken any) photos of bees outside the metro area and want to show them off to everyone, send them to us via email or tag us on iNaturalist and you may be featured in a future newsletter.

Bees in the News: Do bees have consciousness?

A recent paper provides evidence that bees may experience basic emotions like optimism and pessimism. We knew that they can recognize human faces and learn to use tools, but this the first study to support an emotional state in insects. To test this, the authors trained bumble bees to collect nectar from fake flowers; blue ones had nectar and green ones did not. They then offered them a blue-green flower, with an ambiguous reward. The big kicker was that when bees were given a surprise reward just before they started exploring this new flower, they were more optimistic. If they didn’t get the reward, they were more pessimistic. Meaning, they were less inquisitive and less resilient when they ran into challenges while foraging. The authors interpret these effects as potential emotional states. While more research needs to be done to confirm these findings, it is looking more likely that bees have higher intellectual capabilities than many people give them credit for. Learn More: News Article, Research Article

News you can use

As temperatures get hotter, we hear that people have problems with their technology. Here are a few tips:

  1. If you have a large case on your phone, consider taking it off while doing your surveys. This may allow the phone to cool easier
  2. Wear a brimmed hat. This will give you a bit of shade, making it easier to see your phone screen.
  3. Turn your phone onto “battery saving mode” if you have one. That will turn off some things your apps are doing in the background, which can drain your battery.
  4. Fashion a phone shade?? We spotted this phone shade at our BeeBlitz (we didn’t catch your name, so if you want credit send us a message). The user claimed it helped him see his phone a bit easier in the glare.

Colleen Crank wins MDC photo contest!

Shutterbee participant, Colleen Crank, won the Missouri Department of Conservation’s #ColumbiaBottomSunflowers photo contest last week. Her photo will be displayed at a conservation center or online at a later date, so keep your eye out.

Bombus grisecollis male foraging on a sunflower. Taken by Colleen Crank.

Book Review: Our Native Bees by Paige Emry

Looking for one last book to read this summer? Consider reading Our Native Bees by Paige Emry. Emry’s book describes the importance of native bees in North America and what is currently being done to help them. If you are interested in learning more about this book, check out Lisa Brunette’s review on her blog. Fair warning from Lisa, though, you may become even MORE obsessed with bees after reading this book. Learn More

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