April Bulletin

Nina presents her dissertation research, Trainings for Shutterbee 2023, a recap of the Bee ID course, City Nature Challenge, Male bees emergence

Celebrate Nina’s Defense!

You may know Nina as the Shutterbee co-founder and voracious identification master on iNaturalist, but her work with Shutterbee is only one part of her dissertation. Over the last five years, Nina has been incredibly busy researching the conservation potential of home gardens.

On Wednesday, April 26th at 6PM, she will present the results from this work at Urban Chestnut in the Grove. Come learn about bee diversity in home gardens, garden conservation programs, and the success of Shutterbee. She has some really exciting results to share!

The event will be held in the back room at Urban Chestnut. To get there, go in the front (stop at the bar and grab a beer, make sure to tip your bartender!), walk all the way along the bar to the end. At the end, turn left and the room will be on your right.

After her presentation, we will toast to all of Nina’s accomplishments. Graduations are always a bit double-edged, tinged with excitement and sadness. Nina has been a joy to work with, and her legacy in the bee community in St. Louis is extensive. I, for one, will miss working with her regularly, but I cannot wait to see what she does next.

Congratulations in advance, Nina! You deserve it :). ~Nicole

A very sweaty Nina after a day of fieldwork

Sign up for the 2023 season of Shutterbee!

If you haven’t done so already, you can still sign up for Shutterbee 2023. We are asking returners to register so we can plan for this summer and gather some demographic information. We are also soliciting for new participants through May 1st. Please share this flier with anyone you know who might be interested! If you have any questions about Shutterbee or the registration process, please contact us at shutterbee@webster.edu.

Save the date for Trainings

New Participants. Welcome to the team! New Shutterbee participants have two required, synchronous trainings. The first introduces you to the project goals and bee photography. This training session is virtual (via Zoom) and will last about 1.5 hours. There are two days and times to choose from: Wednesday, May 24th @ 6PM or Friday, May 26th @ 3PM. You do not need to register ahead of time for the first training. However, we will be taking attendance so we know who was able to make it. We will email you with information on how to join the meetings the week before. The second trainings dates are to be determined but will be in early June.

Returning Participants. Thank you for joining for another year! During this virtual meeting, we will update you on the results that we have found this winter, share our new data collection plans for this summer, and will review the official protocol. There are two dates to choose from (no need to register): Monday, April 24th at 6pm or Friday, April 28th at 3PM. We will email you with information on how to join the meetings the week before.

Recap of the Bee ID course

On April 1st, we had a fantastic time having our in-person bee identification course. Over two sessions, 35 people had the opportunity to pin a bee, examine bees under a microscope, and determine what unlabeled specimens were based on the Shutterbee decision trees.

Thank you so much to all the participants for making it a great event. We loved your enthusiasm and amazing questions, and we hoped that you feel more confident with bee identification now. Practice makes progress, so keep up the great work!

Some of the boxes put together for the course. Participants had to place the bee into the correct labeled square.
A participant examining a bee under a microscope.

City Nature Challenge April 28th – May 1st

The City Nature Challenge is right around the corner! This worldwide event encourages people to document the wildlife they see in the city. There are a few ways you can participate

  • Post photos on iNaturalist April 28th – May 1st
  • Help identify photos April 28th- May 7th.
    Here is the link to the iNaturalist project.
  • Attend an event! There will be events including chances to talk with experts and go on guided nature hikes.

One event you can attend was shared to us by Shutterbee participant, Michael Wohlstadter. It will be a nature hike in Forest Park the morning of Saturday, April 29th from 9:00 am until 11:00 am.  The meeting point is the Steinberg parking lot.

Some people affiliated with the Zoo and Master Naturalists will be there. They will have equipment for examining taxa such as frogs.
No experience is necessary, and the event is open to all ages.

Optional registration form https://forms.gle/2NxHWQa5H7AMaEnu9

If you here of any events affiliated with the City Nature Challenge, let us know and we can share them!

Male bees get an early start

Spring is now in full swing– and that means more bees are finally out and about! What some of you might not know, however, is that many of the first fliers to be seen this time of year are males. Compared to eusocial bees (such as honeybees and bumblebees) whose female workers emerge first, the males of most solitary bee species can be seen getting a head start as temperatures warm.

A male small carpenter bee (Genus Ceratina) newly-emerged from a nest in an (invasive) butterfly bush stem, courtesy of Coral Martin. A list of other plants that bees will nest in can be found here. While most species in this list are native and non-aggressive, a few species (highlighted in red) are aggressive or invasive. We recommend avoiding those ones.

This phenomenon has multiple contributing factors, both genetic and behavioral. To begin, for most bee species, the first eggs laid in a nest (such as in a stem or crevice) are female and the final eggs laid are male (females can decide the sex of each egg they lay). This means that the male bees are closest to the entrance and must often exit first to make way for their sisters. Interestingly, this also suggests a relatively shorter developmental period for males, as they are both laid later and born earlier than females. Male bees generally require less time and energy to develop compared to female bees that are often larger and require additional resources for egg production.

Idealized diagram of a carpenter bee tunnel nest demonstrating egg placement by sex. Yellow circles represent pollen loaves, and white shapes represent larva.

While males might have a shorter “cook time”, they are by no means under-baked! Males, once hatched, have critical tasks to complete before the females wake. For instance, many species rely upon males for nest defense from both predators and competitors to protect the still-dormant females inside. Male wool carder bees, Eastern calliopsis bees, and carpenter bees (among others) may also stake out prime nesting territories or flower patches as nuptial gifts for their future partners. By emerging early, males can better establish dominance, provide resources, and improve the overall fitness of the females before the ladies have touched a single petal.

Video of a territorial Male Wool Carder Bee from PBS.

The most critical factors, however, may simply be linked to mating opportunities. The main role of male bees is to mate, and emerging earlier gives them a better chance to do so. Male bees that arise first can begin searching for mates and establishing their territory before other males. This can increase their chances of both finding and successfully mating with a partner. So, once the males have climbed out of their nests – and perhaps had a bit to eat – they eagerly wait for the females to arrive to achieve this ultimate goal.

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