A Citizen Science Project Exploring Bee Biodiversity in Northern Colorado
Native Bee Watch Newsletter #26
Welcome to the Native Bee Watch Newsletter! This newsletter provides the current buzz on bee monitoring, tips for best practice observing, and other fun, educational resources. Enjoy! 
An Interesting Read on the Future of Invertebrates
The article, ‘A different dimension of loss’: inside the great insect die-off is a worthwhile read. While it does not paint an optimistic picture for the future of invertebrates and our planet, knowing the importance of diversity on our planet is a positive first step towards a brighter future.

Here are some excerpts: 

"About 2 million species of plants, animals and fungi are known to science thus far. No one knows how many are left to discover. Some put it at around 2 million, others at more than 100 million. The true scope of the world’s biodiversity is one of the biggest and most intractable problems in the sciences."

"But even as thousands of new species are being discovered every year, thousands more seem to be disappearing, swept away in an ecological catastrophe that has come to be known as  the sixth extinction . There have been five such disasters in the past. The most famous (and recent) is the end-Cretaceous extinction, the one that killed off the dinosaurs 66m years ago. The most destructive was the Permian, the one that cleared the way for the dinosaurs 190m years before that."

"Everywhere, invertebrates are threatened by climate change, competition from invasive species and habitat loss. Insect abundance seems to be declining precipitously, even in places where their habitats have not suffered notable new losses. A troubling new report from Germany has shown a  75% plunge in insect populations since 1989 , suggesting that they may be even more imperiled than any previous studies suggested... Entomologists across the world have watched this decline with growing concern."

"While we still don’t have a clear idea of what’s happening to insects at the species level, we are in the midst of a crisis at the population level. Put simply, even if many kinds of insects are holding on, their overall numbers are falling drastically. The alarming new data from Germany, which was based on tracking the number of flying insects captured at a number of sites over 35 years, is one warning sign among many. According to estimates made by Claire Régnier of the French Natural History Museum in Paris, in the past four centuries, as many of 130,000 species of known invertebrates may have already disappeared."
A native bee at the Gardens on Spring Creek in summer, 2017. Photo: Lisa Mason
A monarch butterfly caterpillar at Maxwell Natural Area, 2017. Photo: Lisa Mason
A sand wasp ( Bembix sp.) at the Gardens on Spring Creek, 2017. Photo: Lisa Mason
Insect Diversity in Our Own Backyards

Thinking about the sheer number of insects on our plant can be hard to comprehend. Millions of insect species have been identified, and potentially millions more have yet to be discovered. Insect biodiversity is everywhere, even in our own backyards! The smallest patch of habitat can make a significant difference for many insects.

This video shows how many insects can be found on one plant. Retired entomologist David Cappaert took pictures and video of all the insects that visited one mountain mint ( Pycnanthemum virginianum) plant over a one-week period.

Guess how many insect species he counted?
Photo and video: David Cappaert
Bee of the Week - Hoplitis spp.

Family - Megachilidae

Scientific Name - Hoplitis spp.

Most of these bees prefer cool mountains and boreal habitats compared to the deserts many other bees prefer. They can be found throughout the northern hemisphere and dietary preferences range drastically from extreme specialists that only visit one type of plant to extreme generalists that will visit almost any. In Colorado, there are 8 species of Hoplitis bees. All species of Hoplitis are solitary. Their nesting habitats vary, and many will nest in the same area as others or where they were born. Some will even build on top or next to their mother’s nests.

Sources: Bees in Your Backyard and The Bees of Colorado 
Photo: Diane Wilson
Plant of the Week - Lavender Ice ice plant

Scientific Name - Delosperma ‘Psfave’

The Lavender ice ice plant is a perennial, early summer flowering plant. As its name implies, the flowers are lavender, but they’re also iridescent and have a dark center. This plant prefers well drained soil and sunny areas to grow. It doesn’t need a lot of water and grows better in gravel than in mulch. As a ground cover plant, it grows 14-18 inches wide and only 1-2 inches tall. This plant is not native to North America, but it was introduced in 2009. If you want this plant in your own garden, it grows well with Penstemon , Agastache genera, and other plants in the Delosperma genus. For more information, click here .

Source and photo: Plant Select®
What's the Buzz? Pollinators in the News

Nobody Knows Why These Bees Built a Spiral Nest . T he Australian stingless bee Tetragonula carbonaria is not your average pollinator. For starters, out of  about 20,000  known  bee species  in the world, T. carbonaria is one of only 500 without stingers.

WSU Researchers Develop Pesticide Protection for Bees. Researchers develop a carbon micro-particle that can be fed to honey bees to remove pesticides from their digestive system.

Honeybees Help Farmers, But They Don't Help The Environment. A commentary published in Science this month discusses the importance of broadening our conservation focus from the honey bee to all the native bees (over 20,000 in the world) and other pollinators.
Photo: Micaela Truslove
A Halictus sp., or Striped Sweat Bee on a Denver columbine at the CSU Trial Gardens in 2016. Photo: Lisa Mason
Native Bee Watch: A Citizen Science Project Exploring Bee Biodiversity in Northern Colorado

Website: nativebeewatch.wordpress.com  Contact: Lisa Mason at Lisa.Mason@ColoState.edu