January 2023 Bulletin

Video of bee nesting, Nina reaches a milestone, Grow Native! certifications, results

Life cycle of Anthidium bees

There are two species of wool carder bees (Family Megachiliade, Genus Anthidium) found in St. Louis. These bees are non-native to North America and were accidentally introduced from Europe/Northern Africa. Anthidium manicatum was introduced in 1963 and Anthidium oblongatum was introduced in the 1990s. Both species are now commonly found in urban areas.

The males are territorial so you will often see them hovering near plants and being aggressive with other bees. Female Anthidium can often be found collecting pollen on plants in the Lamiaceae (mint) family including skullcap and basil. You will also find the females collecting carder (plant fibers) from plants such as lamb’s ear.

To learn more about these fascinating bees including how they build their nest, watch this cool video below.

Nina reaches 100K on iNat!

This month Nina Fogel reached a huge milestone: she has identified over 100,000 observations on iNaturalist!!! That makes her 281st in the world in terms of number of identifications. While many of the observations she has identified have come from you (N = 29,191), she also identifies bees for many other projects and people around the world. In all, she has identified 652 species observed by 31,734 iNaturalist users from 5 continents. Congratulations, Nina!

Shutterbee participants become GrowNative! Certified

Three Shutterbee folks have become Grow Native! certified professionals! Cody Azotea, Cody Hayo, and Emily Buehrle (one Shutterbee’s first undergraduate students) had to demonstrate knowledge of native plants and landscape design using natives. AND the program was actually co-designed by another Shutterbee participant Sue Leahy! To maintain certification, GNCP must earn continuing education units by taking classes, webinars, etc. Congratulations, Cody, Cody, and Emily! Your efforts support pollinators and other wildlife every day.

While these folks have a history of working with Grow Native!, the next exam (to be offered in April 2023) will be open to the general public. If you are interested in learning more about this program, read details on the Grow Native! website by clicking here.

Results: Photography works!

There are many different methods for capturing bees including bowl traps, blue vane traps, and aerial netting. Each method has some biases, but using a netting is generally thought to be the “best bang for your buck.” Netting captures the highest amount of diversity without catching too many bees or being biased toward certain types of bees. However, as far as we know, photography has never been used in a systematic way to catalog all the bees in an area. (Yes, that means as Shutterbee participants you are one of the first people ever to do timed photo surveys of bees.)

But before we can start exalting photography as a means to catalog bee diversity, we needed to see how well it actually works. To do this, Nina did catch and release surveys with a net while our amazing undergraduate students (Nick, Amber, Colby, Coral, Cheyenne, Elspeth, Haley, Scott, Naomi, and Alex) did a Shutterbee photo survey. We did this for 44 surveys and then compared the bees recorded via netting and photography.

Comparison in proportion of bees observed between netting (red) and the photography (the undergrads; blue). There is no statistically significant difference between any of the morphogroups.

Overall, we found high levels of consistency between netting and photographing bees for each survey done in the same location. When we pool the results from all the surveys, the undergrads photographed 922 bees where as Nina netted 910 bees. There is no statistically significant difference in the capture rate between any of the different taxonomic groups. However, photography recorded more Bombus (bumblebees) and Halictus whereas netting captured more Lasioglossum, Ceratina and Hylaeus.

Catching bees with a net still has lots of uses. Many bees cannot be identified to species via photographs and from specimens you can study the size and shape of bees and do DNA analysis. However, our results indicate that at the taxonomic resolution we can get for photographs (mostly genus level), photography yields similar results to netting. This supports our use of your data to test ecological questions!

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