Category: hymenoptera

Regular

theredshirtwholived:

systlin:

the-awkward-turt:

nanonaturalist:

starcults:

a-wandering-intern:

terrible-tentacle-theatre:

nanonaturalist:

thegreatpigeonking:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

alwayshere195:

fireheartedkaratepup:

thebeeblogger:

foxthebeekeeper:

jumpingjacktrash:

libertarirynn:

bollytolly:

l0veyu:

viva-la-bees:

fat-gold-fish:

how do u actually save bees?

  • Plant bee-friendly flowers
  • Support your local beekeepers
  • Set up bee hotels for solitary bees
  • If you see a lethargic bee feed it sugar water
  • Spread awareness of the importance off bees

+Don’t eat honey✌🏻

NO.

That will not help save the bees at all. They need the excess honey removed from their hives. That’s the beekeepers entire livelihood.

Seriously refusing to eat honey is one of those well-meaning but ultimately terrible ideas. The bees make way too much honey and need it out in order to thrive (not being funny but that was literally a side effect in Bee Movie). Plus that’s the only way for the beekeepers to make the money they need to keep the bees healthy. Do not stop eating honey because somebody on Tumblr told you too.

excess honey, if not removed, can ferment and poison the bees. even if it doesn’t, it attracts animals and other insects which can hurt the bees or even damage the hive. why vegans think letting bees stew in their own drippings is ‘cruelty-free’ is beyond me. >:[

the fact that we find honey yummy and nutritious is part of why we keep bees, true, but the truth is we mostly keep them to pollinate our crops. the vegetable crops you seem to imagine would still magically sustain us if we stopped cultivating bees.

and when you get right down to it… domestic bees aren’t confined in any way. if they wanted to fly away, they could, and would. they come back to the wood frame hives humans build because those are nice places to nest.

so pretending domestic bees have it worse than wild bees is just the most childish kind of anthropomorphizing.

If anything, man-made hives are MORE suitable for bees to live in because we have mathematically determined their optimal living space and conditions, and can control them better in our hives. We also can treat them for diseases and pests much easier than we could if they were living in, say, a tree.

Tl;dr for all of this: eating honey saves the bees from themselves, and keeping them in man-made hives is good for them.

✌️✌️✌️

Plus, buying honey supports bee owners, which helps them maintain the hives, and if they get more money they can buy more hives, which means more bees!

I tell people this. About the honey and what to do to save bees. I also have two large bottles of honey in my cabinet currently. Trying to get some flowers for them to thrive on. Support your bees guys

… uh guys… the whole “Save the Bees!” thing is not about honeybees. It’s about the decline of native bees almost to the point of extinction. Native bees do not make honey. Honeybees are domesticated. Taking measures to protect honeybees is as irrelevant to helping the environment as protecting Farmer John’s chickens.

To help save native bees, yes, plant NATIVE flowers (what naturally grows where you live? That’s what your bees eat!), set up “bee hotels,” which can be something as simple as a partially buried jar or flower pot for carpenter bees, and don’t use pesticides. Having a source of water (like a bird bath or “puddles” you frequently refresh) is also good for a variety of wildlife.

Want to know more about bees that are not honeybees?

Dark Bee Tumblr is here to help [link to post chain about forbidden bees]

ALSO also also

Every place has different types of bees. Every place has different types of plants/flowers. Those hyped-up “save the bees” seed packets that are distributed across North America are garbage because none of those flowers are native in every habitat. Don’t look up “how to make a bee hotel” and make something that only bees from the great plains areas would use if you live on the west coast.

Look up what bees you have in your home! Here’s a great (excellent) resource: https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/630955-Anthophila

This is every bee that has been observed and uploaded to the citizen science network of iNaturalist. You can filter by location (anywhere in the world! This is not restricted to the US!), and you can view photos of every species people have added. Here’s the page for all bees, sorted by taxonomy, not filtered to any specific location [link]. Have you seen a bee and want to know more about it, but you don’t know what kind of bee it is? Take a picture, upload it to iNat, and people like me will help you identify it–and it will also become part of the database other people will use to learn about nature!

Some native Texan bees I’ve met!

A sweat bee! [link to iNat]. These flowers are tiny, no larger than a dime.

A ligated furrow bee! [link to iNat] They burrow and nest underground.

A longhorn bee! [link to iNat] I don’t know where they nest, but I often find them sleeping on the tips of flowers at night (so cute!)

Meet your local bees! Befriend them! Feed them! Make them homes! Love them!

This is one of the native bees I met in Arizona! This handsome man is a male Melissodes sp., AKA a type of long-horned bee. I saved him when he was drowning in a puddle.

I love him

This is a great post all in all but I’d just like to note that colony collapse syndrome is definitely a thing, so domestic honeybees are absolutely in danger as well

Europen Honey Bees are an invasive species in the US and compete with native bees.

Native bee populations are specifically evolved to pollinate certain native plants. Most are unlikely to have a significant effect on the pollination of the non-native crops that people need to grow to survive. It’s true that honeybees will compete with native bees as well, and can be classified as an invasive species, but so long as native bees are supported and native flora is maintained, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to coexist. And while there’s a whole different argument to be had about the negative effects of growing nonnative crops at all, if they fail, as they likely would without the honeybees that a large percentage of farmers keep to pollinate their and other local crops, the effects on humanity will be catastrophic 

Lest people think I am anti-honeybee (no? I love honeybees?? They are precious??), the above is correct. Like it or not, the way we grow our food (much of which is not native to where it’s farmed) absolutely requires pollinators like honeybees. We would have a hugely massive food crisis on our hands without honeybees.

But, because so much $$$ is tied into the continued production of food, governments and food production companies will do whatever they can to mitigate the effects of colony collapse and other honeybee health issues. What can you do to help honeybees? Buy and eat food. Easy, right?

What is being done to protect native bees? Well,

1) Scientists and researchers are feverishly trying to get them listed as protected species and absolutely failing (see @thelepidopteragirl’s post about colleagues of hers: [link]).

2) Scientists and researchers are trying to get pesticides known to have devastating effects on bees and other pollinators banned and absolutely failing ([link]).

3) Scientists and science communicators (like me now, apparently) are trying to spread this information about native bees and their importance so more people can do little things like plant native flowers (lookup North American species for your zip code here: [link]), change how often they mow their lawns ([link]), and vote out the assholes who are profiting by destroying our environment ([link]). Success on this one: TBD, and by people like us.

As a gift to the honeybee lovers out there, please accept this photo of one making out with a stinkhorn mushroom:

^An excellent post on the complexities of the “Save the Bees” movement

To add, honeybees are also having problems in, you know, Europe and Asia, where they are native!

I feel like that gets forgotten by many, as Tumblr is very USA centered. 

@nanonaturalist don’t you mean bee-friend them?

*sigh* Please, allow me to introduce you to my roommate, Augochloropsis sp., a sweat bee (Austin, Texas):

Here is a close personal friend of mine, American Bumble Bee (Keller, Texas):

I traveled to Alberta last summer, and was able to meet up with an acquaintance, Cryptic Bumble Bee (Calgary, Alberta):

And the foreign exchange student staying with her, European Wool Carder Bee (Calgary, Alberta):

Flashback to the days before I dated my posts *shudders*
April 8, 2019

Regular

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

Incoming: A “different” kind of caterpillar!

I am overjoyed and elated to announce these beautiful eggs, which I found in some elderberry leaves I was about to feed the cecropias (elderberry is popular!)

And yes, I said in the leaves. Look closer:

Here you can see each egg underneath a thin membrane of leaf tissue. What kind of insect lays its eggs inside the leaves? Lots of them, but one, in particular, has been hanging out on the elderberry plant for over a week straight, loving life and drinking elderberry nectar whenever she wants:

It wasn’t until I uploaded photos to iNat that I realized she could have been the mother, since I thought she was a wasp I didn’t recognize. I wasn’t too far off: she is a hymenopteran, like wasps, but she is a SAWFLY. My friends over on iNat have identified her as being in genus Macrophya, and three species in Texas feed on elderberry. So I was right about my hunch that the eggs were sawfly eggs, even if I didn’t realize their mom was still hanging out in my elderberry bush!

The photos above were from Saturday. On Sunday, guess what?

An eye!!!

I’ve talked about sawfly larvae before, and how they look very similar to caterpillars (they are often confused). I’ve attempted to rear them before (a different species) when I had an infestation on a vine in my yard, but I’ve never found eggs before. Exciting! I just need to make sure they don’t destroy my elderberry bush, the cecropias have dibs!

March 31/April 1, 2019

The Hatchening

Oh! Where is the baby?!

Here’s a nibble, he can’t be far. Let’s turn over the leaf. Maybe he’s hiding.

!!!!!!!!!! A baby!!!!!!

He very much wanted to be hiding, so he was very crawly when I was looking at him. See how tiny??!

He’s making a grand escape!

I went to get some fresh leaves for him, and figured I may as well bring in some of his siblings (I know his mom left a ton of eggs back there). I stopped myself at ten.

Eeeeeeeeee!!!!

April 2, 2019

It’s Raining Sawflies

So, every time I get elderberry for the cecropias, I end up finding a handful more sawfly eggs. I have at least 20 now, and they are all starting to hatch! The babies prefer to stay curled up in a little spiral under the leaves, but as soon as I pick them up for photoshoots, they uncurl and run away. The first baby is HUGE now!

April 4/5, 2019

Regular

nanonaturalist:

Incoming: A “different” kind of caterpillar!

I am overjoyed and elated to announce these beautiful eggs, which I found in some elderberry leaves I was about to feed the cecropias (elderberry is popular!)

And yes, I said in the leaves. Look closer:

Here you can see each egg underneath a thin membrane of leaf tissue. What kind of insect lays its eggs inside the leaves? Lots of them, but one, in particular, has been hanging out on the elderberry plant for over a week straight, loving life and drinking elderberry nectar whenever she wants:

It wasn’t until I uploaded photos to iNat that I realized she could have been the mother, since I thought she was a wasp I didn’t recognize. I wasn’t too far off: she is a hymenopteran, like wasps, but she is a SAWFLY. My friends over on iNat have identified her as being in genus Macrophya, and three species in Texas feed on elderberry. So I was right about my hunch that the eggs were sawfly eggs, even if I didn’t realize their mom was still hanging out in my elderberry bush!

The photos above were from Saturday. On Sunday, guess what?

An eye!!!

I’ve talked about sawfly larvae before, and how they look very similar to caterpillars (they are often confused). I’ve attempted to rear them before (a different species) when I had an infestation on a vine in my yard, but I’ve never found eggs before. Exciting! I just need to make sure they don’t destroy my elderberry bush, the cecropias have dibs!

March 31/April 1, 2019

The Hatchening

Oh! Where is the baby?!

Here’s a nibble, he can’t be far. Let’s turn over the leaf. Maybe he’s hiding.

!!!!!!!!!! A baby!!!!!!

He very much wanted to be hiding, so he was very crawly when I was looking at him. See how tiny??!

He’s making a grand escape!

I went to get some fresh leaves for him, and figured I may as well bring in some of his siblings (I know his mom left a ton of eggs back there). I stopped myself at ten.

Eeeeeeeeee!!!!

April 2, 2019

Regular

Incoming: A “different” kind of caterpillar!

I am overjoyed and elated to announce these beautiful eggs, which I found in some elderberry leaves I was about to feed the cecropias (elderberry is popular!)

And yes, I said in the leaves. Look closer:

Here you can see each egg underneath a thin membrane of leaf tissue. What kind of insect lays its eggs inside the leaves? Lots of them, but one, in particular, has been hanging out on the elderberry plant for over a week straight, loving life and drinking elderberry nectar whenever she wants:

It wasn’t until I uploaded photos to iNat that I realized she could have been the mother, since I thought she was a wasp I didn’t recognize. I wasn’t too far off: she is a hymenopteran, like wasps, but she is a SAWFLY. My friends over on iNat have identified her as being in genus Macrophya, and three species in Texas feed on elderberry. So I was right about my hunch that the eggs were sawfly eggs, even if I didn’t realize their mom was still hanging out in my elderberry bush!

The photos above were from Saturday. On Sunday, guess what?

An eye!!!

I’ve talked about sawfly larvae before, and how they look very similar to caterpillars (they are often confused). I’ve attempted to rear them before (a different species) when I had an infestation on a vine in my yard, but I’ve never found eggs before. Exciting! I just need to make sure they don’t destroy my elderberry bush, the cecropias have dibs!

March 31/April 1, 2019

Regular

A Dilemma

I am but one person with too little time and too many hyperfixations and even though my yard is actually kinda small it ends up taking on a life of its own because hey let nature do its thing, right? What’s the worst that could happen?

*sigh*

So, right now, the very back of my yard is a mini-forest of hackberry, elm, and soapberry saplings about chest high (so thick you can’t walk through them without cutting them down, it’s a situation). Behind those, there’s this tangled mass of common hedge parsley and catchweed bedstraw. Both of these plants are terrible. The catchweed is essentially nature’s velcro and it tears into your skin as a bonus. The parsley is fine until is goes to seed—I have clothes I can’t wear until I sit down for a few hours and pick all the burr-covered parsley seeds off them. No, they don’t come off in the wash.

The back of the yard is the worst, but the catchweed and the parsley are all over my entire yard (along with the invasive rescue brome grass I can’t get rid of). I’ve been picking as much of it as I can every time I go outside. I want to destroy ALL OF IT!!!

Except… uh… today while I was watering my trees… uh…

Sorry for the grainy quality, I was far away. But… uh… Swallowtail Butterfly host plants include… plants in the… carrot family…

You know, like… parsley? She laid several eggs while I watched, and I found three total. I know there’s gotta be more. Well, I guess that’s one host plant I’m not going to fun out of… and I’ve never raised swallowtails before!!!

So I put the plants with the eggs inside, and went back to watering. Okay, maybe I don’t hate parsely as much. But I still hate catchweed. GRRR!!!

Oh! Hello Mexican Honey Wasp friend! What are you doing over here?

Wait… are you…

Nectaring on…

Catchweed?!

I watched this wasp, and… yes. The only flowers that seemed to interest her were these tiny catchweed flowers.

Well. I guess I’m not pulling out all of the parsley and catchweed. As if I’d have been able to in the first place.

Just goes to show how even “weeds” are essential components of any ecosystem. My current situation is just a gross imbalance of three particular species.

March 18, 2019

A Sweet Story

Once upon a time (November 2017), I came upon a large hive covered in lovely stripey friends, and I took a photo. Unfortunately, I was still new to my camera, and I didn’t realize until I uploaded the photos that my focus depth was off. Oh no!

I uploaded my photos to iNaturalist, identified the friends as honeybees, and went on my way. Except, I was told that this was not a honeybee nest, and the bees had likely made this hive a temporary home while searching for a new one. 

Unsatisfied, I returned the next day, determined to get better photos of the nest. I got them

They weren’t bees temporarily taking up residence in an abandoned paper wasp nest. They were Mexican Honey Wasps, who make a big, elaborate paper nests. And also, honey. Yes, wasps that eat honey. Oh yeah, and they also eat pest insects that damage food crops, and it’s believed that these wasps were responsible for pollinating avocados before honeybees were introduced from Europe.

But anyway, I’m digressing. 

I don’t see these wasps very often. Besides on that nest, I haven’t really seen them elsewhere.

Until earlier this week. Guess who visited my garden?

I have an Elderberry bush baby growing (it’s not even a year old yet). And it would appear that Elderberry plants have nectaries–those little knobby things where the leaves attach to the stem by my fingers are the nectaries. Think of nectaries as little plant nipples that let insects drink nectar direct from the tap. Ants and wasps can’t get enough of them. While I was taking these pictures, I had two other wasp species wandering through this bush for the nectaries!

But that wasp up there?

Going to town on the nectaries here?

Mexican Honey Wasp

I’m going to be so excited if their nest ends up being in my yard! They’d be smart to put one in there! So many bugs for them to eat! So much delicious nectar! 

I love my yard. I’m at 989 species right now. So close to 1,000. 

March 17, 2019

birdandmoon: New comic: two butts and a lie. …

birdandmoon:

New comic: two butts and a lie.

This comic is based on the work of Christoph von Beeren and Daniel Kronauer. Von
Beeren even named the beetle after Kronauer: it’s Nymphister kronaueri!
Best honor ever. Plus an army ant, Eciton burchellii. Read more here.

Thanks to my friend Alex Wild for taking many of my photo references and looking at this before I posted it!

Regular

jjongs-tae-and-biscuits submitted:

Heyo! I know you’re not in Australia, but there was a whole group of caterpillars (I guess?) by the edge of a path on a nature walk today. They moved as a group, and had little pointed butts that they tapped on the ground when my partner and I got close to them. I tried identifying them, but with no luck, so I wanted to see if you knew them? Thanks in advance, regardless!

image
image

LOOK AT THESE CUTE LITTLE BABIES!!! You are right to be a little suspicious of these guys. There aren’t any clear shots of their little suction cup prolegs because they are all in a huge pile together (when they’re in groups like this, they’re called “gregarious”). If you did pick one out and take a good look at it, you would likely be a little more suspicious.

Here is what you would see for a typical caterpillar:

This is a Gulf Fritillary caterpillar, just after molting. I numbered the prolegs. There is a little variation, like with inchworms (who only have two!), but for the mostpart, the most you will see is 5 (the exceptions are the slugmoth caterpillars, but you will never confuse them with these next guys).

Here’s what you would see if you pulled out one of your little friends there:

Here’s a freshly molted baby! Hmmmmmm.

Here’s another baby! Wait a minute…

Your friends are not baby moths or butterflies, they are the babies of:

A sawfly! Related to Bees, Wasps, and Ants!

Of course, I only have photos of the Texan ones, and I honestly haven’t seen too many species (these are not easy to find here!). But oh boy, the Australian sawflies are beautiful! 

Your sawfly larvae are in the genus Perga. Here is what the adults look like (2 cm long and beautiful):

Image from iNaturalist, copyright Felix Fleck [link]

How did I figure this out? I googled “Australian caterpillars,” and landed on this page: The Identification of Caterpillars of Australia [link]. Large caterpillars are noteworthy, especially gregarious ones. But they’re not on the main page. The long legs (actually legs, up front) made me suspicious as well, so I clicked over to their sawfly page [link], and there they were! I looked them up on iNaturalist, and we were in business.

Thanks for asking, that was fun! I didn’t realize sawflies got so big (but of course they do!)

March 14, 2019

Hi! I study native bees too (in undergrad and …

Hi! I study native bees too (in undergrad and now as a grad) and I was wondering if you do species-level IDs for those tough genera like Dialictus, Nomada, Andrena, etc? My postdoc associate knew how to, but I was never taught them and workshops I see are always to genus level. I will need to ID these toughies this summer and am not sure how to go about learning them. Do you have any resources or advice? Thank you!

My coworkers and I are still learning those groups, they are super hard! We are working on multiple projects (bees and non-bees) so the learning part is a slow going. We are using multiple

online/book keys and honestly, the best advice I was given is to just keep looking at reference specimens! We’ve got a pretty decent reference collection and that has helped so much!

I’m sorry this isn’t the greatest answer, but man some of the bee genera is just hard!

zoologicallyobsessed: Wallace’s giant bee (Meg…

zoologicallyobsessed:

Wallace’s giant bee (Megachile pluto)

BACKGROUND

This giant bee has been making headlines recently for its rediscovery in 2019 of the first live female. We actually know quite a bit about this reclusive bee despite it coming it and out of discovery for zoologists. This also isn’t the first time this bee has been “rediscovered.” Since it’s discovery and collection in 1858 by Alfred Russel Wallace it was thought to have been extinct until 1981, when American entomologist Adam C. Messer discovered six nests of these giant bees on the Bacan Islands in Moluccas, Indonesia. In fact the greatest contribution to our current understanding of the Wallace’s giant bee is thanks to Adam C. Messer. 

After 1981 this bee remained elusive in the wild until 2018, in which two specimens were found and collected and subsequently sold on eBay for $9000 to collectors. This highlights the lack of protection that is afforded to this rare species and that is still a major concern now that this species has been observed once more. 

What makes this 2019 sighting so exciting is that it was the first female to be sighted, filmed and photographed (before being released). She was found living within a termite nest in Indonesia.  

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THIS BEE

Thanks to entomologist Adam C. Messer we know a surprising lot for such a rare and elusive species. Megachile pluto is the largest known living bee species found in Indonesia on only three islands of the North Moluccas in Indonesia: Bacan, Halmahera and Tidore.

Messer published a paper on his findings in 1984 (link to his full paper below)

Which found that M.pluto is a type of resin bee displaying strong sexual dimorphism; while females grow to 38mm with a wingspan of 64mm and large

mandibles, males are only 23mm with much smaller mandibles. Both species display a bright, distinct white band across their abdomen. 

M.pluto are a solitary species of bee that build communal nests however inside the nests of the termite species: Microcerotermes amboinensis, in what could possibly be obligate. They build their nests inside the termite nest using resin which female bees foraging from an Asian species of tree; Anisoptera thurifera using those massive mandibles to chew through the bark of the tree.   

Very little is known about their population, distribution or habitat. The three islands that they have been observed on however all have palm oil plantations and as a result now occupy and continue to destroy much of the native habitat, which could result in why this species is so difficult to observe in the wild. 

I want to kiss her on the mandible (if she’s okay with that)

February 24, 2019