Category Archives: data collection

How to Catch a Bee

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.

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.

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