The Very Handy Manual: How to Catch and Identify Bees




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The Very Handy Manual: How to Catch and Identify Bees

and Manage a Collection



A Collective and Ongoing Effort by Those Who Love to Study Bees in North America

Last Revised: May, 2012

This manual is a compilation of the wisdom and experience of many individuals, some of whom are directly acknowledged here and others not. We thank all of you. The bulk of the text was compiled by Sam Droege at the USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab over several years from 2004-2008. We regularly update the manual with new information, so, if you have a new technique, some additional ideas for sections, corrections or additions, we would like to hear from you. Please email those to Sam Droege (sdroege@usgs.gov). You can also email Sam if you are interested in joining the group’s discussion group on bee monitoring and identification. Many thanks to Dave and Janice Green, Tracy Zarrillo, and Liz Sellers for their many hours of editing this manual.

"They've got this steamroller going, and they won't stop until there's nobody fishing. What are they going to do then, save some bees?" - Mike Russo (Massachusetts fisherman who has fished cod for 18 years, on environmentalists)-Provided by Matthew Shepherd

Contents


Where to Find Bees 1

Killing Bees to Study Them 1

Nets 2

Netting Technique 2

Removing Bees From the Net 3

Using Ice and Dry Ice 4

Catching Bees on Flowers with Baggies and Kill Jars 4

Bee Vacuum 4

Chlorocresol Humidor 7

Pinning 101: 8

Labels 11

Pens 16

Entering Specimen Data 17

Microscopes 17

The Bee Bowl Trap 20

Glycol Pan or Bowl Traps 27

Flower Traps 28

Trap Holders 29

Field Trip Checklist 30

Bee Monitoring Discussion List and Announcements 32

Quick Bee Survey Protocol 32

Processing Bees that Have Been Stored in Alcohol of Glycol 33

Cleaning Bees that Have Gotten Moldy 37

Re-hydrating Bees that have Been Pinned 37

Inexpensive, but Powerful LED and Florescent Light Sources 37

How to Make a Pizza Insect Pinning Box 38

T. Mitchell’s Guide to the Bees of the Eastern United States 40

Mike Arduser’s Keys 41

Canadian Identification Guides 41

Stylopized Bees 45

Taking Pictures of Bees with the COOLPIX 990 46

Affixing bee wings to microscope slides 52

Taxes and Specimens Donations (U.S.) 53

North American (North of Mexico) Introduced and Alien Bee Species 53

Mini-summary of the Genera of Eastern North American Bees 55

Pronunciation Guide to the Bee Genera of the United States and Canada (and Selected Subgenera) 62

Glossary of Bee Taxonomic Terms 65

Bee Body Part Figures 68



Where to Find Bees


Bees are nearly ubiquitous; they occur essentially everywhere. However, in any given landscape there are usually a few good places to collect bees where they are concentrated, diverse, abundant, and easy to capture and there are many, many places where bees are difficult to find and collect. If you are interested in biodiversity, and taxonomic surveys, it will be important to discover these hotspots. In North America, in general, good collection locales will be places where floral composition is concentrated or unusual. If you are unfamiliar with an area then exploring road/stream/river crossings, powerline rights-of-way, railroad track rights-of-way, sand and gravel operations, open sandy areas, and wetlands are good places to start, In areas with a lot of development, the industrial sector often contains weedy lots and roadsides that also can have good numbers of bees. Note that just because there are few or no plants blooming (to your eye!), this doesn’t mean that there are no or no interesting bees present. A good collecting strategy is to put out bee bowl traps (see sections below) in the morning, and return to good potential collecting sites that you spotted that morning during mid-day.
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