Posts Tagged ‘bees’


Sam Comfort explains the construction and utility of a top bar hive. Click/double click image to enlarge.

Top bar hive expert Sam Comfort (http://anarchyapiaries.org/) held a workshop at the Second Nature Teaching Apiary in Urbana, IL on Aug. 8, 2013. During the first hour and a half he introduced a number of issues honey bees encounter and showed us how top bar hives are constructed. He also introduced the utility of the smaller Warre hives.


One of Sam’s Warre hives. Click/double click image to enlarge.

At that point Second Nature owner, Maggie Wachter, received a phone call regarding one of her hives swarming at an organic produce farm north of Mahomet, IL. We promptly agreed to drive there to get some hands-on  experience in handling and re-hiving a swarm. The swarm was clustered about three feet above the ground on a peach tree. This proved perfect for observation, photographing and rehousing.


Note the size of the swarm relative to the humans standing near the tree,


A close-up of the swarm. Click/double click image to enlarge.


Peace. As expected, the honey-filled honeybees were quite docile during their rehoming. Click image to enlarge.

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Mesquitebug Nymph - Image taken using Marian's point and shoot camera during a day of hiking at El Charco del Ingenio Nature Reserve, just outside of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico, June, 2011. Click image to enlarge.

Results from the 2011 ESA International Insect Photography Salon arrived this morning. I love this particular salon. It allows me to see how a subset of four of my images stack up to those of many of the world’s best arthropod photographers.

I diverged completely from my normal international nature photography strategy, entering a set of images four images that have never been entered in a PSA competition before.

Aren’t I reckless? No, I don’t think so either, but this is as reckless as I get…

I was pleased to see three images receive honors.

Results follow:

Mesquitebug Nymph 14/15 points (see above)

Sonoran Desert Ant 14/15 points

I photographed this ant in the Sonoran Desert (my VERY FAVORITE place) during the 2011 Invertebrates in Education and Conservation Conference (July, 2011). Click image to enlarge.

Pollinating Megachilid 13/15 points

This megachilid was thoughtful enough to pose for me at the University of Illinois Arboretum's Idea Garden, August, 2011. Click image to enlarge.

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Ambush bug (Phymata americana) with honey bee (Apis mellifera) prey. Click image to magnify. Double-click to see the piercing-sucking proboscis of the ambush bug.

In east central Illinois this is the prime time to observe many arthropod species. Most insects encountered are mature, full size adults. The continual cycles of eating and reproduction occur at an ever-accelerating pace, and the early leaf drop of some plant species make the omnipresent insect and spider species even more obvious.

Go out and look if you have the opportunity. There are only a few more weeks of prime arthropod viewing this season!

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Bumblebee (Bombus sp.). Click image to enlarge.

Bumblebees, the only native social bees, are able to fly at cooler temperatures than other bee species. Buzz pollination allows them to be particularly effective in the pollination of plants such a tomatoes, blueberries, cranberries and eggplants.

They, like honeybees, have shown recent worldwide population declines. The cause? Like honeybee decline, a pathogen is partly involved, but inbreeding caused by habitat loss is a major concern and potential contributing factor.

Professor Sydney Cameron of the University of Illinois, performed a three-year study of 382 sites in 40 states and examined more than 73,000 museum records. Her team found the relative abundance of four species declined by up to 96 per cent and that range of the species surveyed geographic ranges have contracted 23 to 87 percent.

Genetic tests indicate the four studied bumblebee species are inbred while other tests implicate the pathogen Nosema bombi as a causal agent.

Read more at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1343979/Bumblebees-risk-wiped-96-decline-species.html#ixzz1Vmnft9kM .

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Megachilid (July 9, 2011, Urbana, IL). Click image to enlarge.

Megachilids include leaf cutter, mason and resin bees.

Resin bees use plant resins to glue sand and pebbles together to  produce their nests, typically located on the underside of plant stems or under ledges.

Leafcutter bees shear oval or circular pieces from leaves to produce individual cells that comprise their nests, typically located in wood or underground.

Mason bees, a major group of native pollinators, nest in pre-existing tunnels within wood. They partition the tunnel into cells and then seal the entrance with mud, effectively protecting their developing offspring from an array of predators and parasites.

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First arthropod image taken with the new camera.

It was a beautiful first day of Spring Break. Crocuses are emerging and opening AND I had my first chance to photograph an insect. Pollinating bees and flies aplenty!

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The Electronic BeeSpace article will appear in the February, 2011 issue of The Science Teacher. Click the link below to access a pdf version of the article.

Electronic BeeSpace Draft

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