A still of mating mason bees from the documentary The Solitary Bees
Team Candiru has just released a new documentary online, a poetic and beautifully shot masterpiece about The Solitary Bees. It’s a short movie, only around 17 minutes, free to view online, and well worth the time.
It features bees found in the United Kingdom, but at least one of them (Anthidium manicatum, the woolcarder bee) has made its way here to the States as well. In addition to capturing amazing footage of solitary bees, it also includes a lot of great information.
One thing I love about walking around a garden is guessing what kind of animal each type of plant relies on for pollination. This is because plants that rely on certain types of animal pollinators are often adapted to be particularly attractive to that type of animal, a phenomenon known as “pollinator syndromes.” The following slides are from a poster I made showcasing pollinator syndromes. Once you read these, you can be an expert, too!
When surveying insects, there is a sad price attached to the acquisition of knowledge. Many characteristics that we entomologists need to identify insects can only be seen under the microscope. This means that, if our research necessitates bee identification, we must collect bees in the wild to examine in the lab.
There is a bit of an art to catching a bee. Bees are much smaller and faster than we are, have the ability to fly, and can see out of the backs of their heads through simple eyes called “ocelli”.
How many eyes does a bee have? In addition to the two large compound eyes, the three small shiny dots on the top of the head of this Anthidium bee are “ocelli,” or simple eyes that can detect light and dark. Photo by Alvesgaspar courtesy of wikimedia commons.
To catch a bee, you must be quick, sneaky, and practiced at using an insect net. After a while, it can become almost fun; don’t be surprised if you hear about a video game called “Bee Catcher” someday. In the meantime, if you’d like to live vicariously through a well regarded bee expert, or maybe try netting and identifying a few bees of your own, you should definitely check out Sam Droege’s youtube video on how to catch bees and wasps using a net.