A Citizen Science Project Exploring Bee Biodiversity in Northern Colorado
Native Bee Watch Newsletter #30
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! 
Backyard Bee Sightings From the Summer
Squash bees, Peponapis pruinosa , resting inside summer squash flowers during the early morning in Centennial. Squash bees are specialist bees because they rely on squash, pumpkin, and gourd flowers for pollen and nectar. Did you notice these bees in your squash flowers this summer? See the Bee of the Week for more information on squash bees!
A striped sweat bee, Halictus sp., on a rose at the Littleton War Memorial Rose Garden. There is another invasive critter in this photo: a Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica , hiding between the rose petals. This picture illustrates the reason why we have to be careful using pesticides to control Japanese beetle. Native bees and honey bees visit many of the same flowers at the same time. Note the damage from the Japanese beetles feeding on the rose petals.
Bombus sp. on Salvia sp. in a backyard in Centennial.
Bombus huntii on Plant Select 's h opflower oregano, Origanum libanoticum , at the CSU Extension - Jefferson County demonstration garden. Plant Select ® has demonstration gardens around Colorado. Visit the Plant Select website for list of locations.
From the CSU Pollination Biology Lab: Meet Brooke

Brooke has started her third semester working in the CSU Pollination Biology Lab. She has worked on a variety of projects in the lab and was instrumental in processing and pinning the bees collected in 2017 for Native Bee Watch. These bees will be an additional data set to learn more about the native bee populations in Fort Collins. Brooke has also been writing the Bee and Plant of the Week for the newsletters and will be writing more content for the newsletters this fall!

What are you studying at CSU?
  • I’m studying Biology with Ecology as my selected field and I absolutely love it!

What are you hoping to do for your career?
  • I’m not entirely sure yet… Something that involves science and the outdoors would be awesome! Pretty much all I know for sure right now is that I don’t want to be stuck inside all the time.

Tell us about your job this past summer?
  • It was amazing!!! I was the Nature Area Director at Ben Delatour Scout Ranch, so I was in charge of teaching merit badges to scouts and keeping the Nature Area running. My favorite merit badge to teach was environmental science but weather and soil and water conservation were pretty great too! I also got to teach Leave no Trace to everyone which was a good way to meet everyone else who wasn’t in the nature merit badges.

What do you like most about working in the lab?
  • It might sound silly, but I really like seeing the finished boxes of pinned bees! It was really satisfying last year to have spent a lot of time pinning them and then seeing the finished boxes with them all organized and pretty. 😊

What do you like to do for fun?
  • I love the outdoors so camping and hiking are some of my favorite things! I also play soccer and volleyball, and I like painting a lot.

What has been the most interesting thing you have learned while working in the Pollination Biology Lab?
  • I didn’t know anything about pinning insects before working in the lab so that was a cool thing to learn but I think the most interesting would be the fun facts I’ve read about bees while writing the Bee of the Weeks! For example, Heriades bees sometimes use pinecones as nests! 
A Unique Pollinator Relationship: Elephant Shrews and Pagoda Lilies

Although elephant shrews primarily eat insects, a study has found that the Long-nosed Cape Rock elephant shrews ( Elephantulus edwardii ) are a big fan of the nectar from the Pagoda lily plant ( Whiteheadia bifolia ). Some of the research done in South Africa even found that when given the choice between peanut butter with rolled oats and apples, and the nectar, the animals preferred the nectar.

The shrews are small, ground dwelling mammals with long, flexible noses and slender tongues. Their long noses get covered in pollen when they stick their tongues between the stamen (the male fertilizing organ of the flower) to reach the nectar. The shrews are only interested in eating the nectar and successfully manage to leave the flower and pollen intact. This characteristic makes them an efficient and important pollinator of the lily plants.
They travel between flowers and flower clusters, where they touch the stigmas (female part of a flower that collects the pollen to develop into fruit or seeds) and drop some pollen from earlier plants. They also pick up new pollen from the new flower to bring to the next plant they visit.

As all flowers do, the lily flowers have adapted to the specific kind of pollinators that visit them. Since the elephant shrews are small and on the ground, the flowers are also small and near the ground.

Although research is scarce on elephant shrew pollination, it is very likely that more than just the Long-nosed Cape Rock species are good pollinators.

Author: Brooke Sayre-Chavez
Bee of the Week - Squash Bees

Family - Apidae

Scientific Name - Peponapis spp.

In Greek, pepon means “pumpkin” and apis means “bee”. These bees are named this way because they are specialized for and often found in squash patches. They collect pollen from the squash flowers during the early morning before they wilt, while it is still somewhat dark. Since it is still dark when they are out and about, these bees rely on their sense of smell to locate the flowers. During the rest of the day the female bees burrow in the ground and the males sleep in the closed flowers. Although the bees nest in the same areas, they are solitary individuals. Since the bees do burrow near the squash, they are found in much higher numbers in fields that are not tilled (up to three times the amount than in tilled fields). Another interesting aspect regarding these bees is that the males are typically better pollinators than the females. Both males and females are medium to large, hairy, and fast flying but the females hoard pollen which makes them less effective at transferring it between flowers. The only Peponapis bee native to Colorado is Peponapis pruinosa

Author: Brooke Sayre-Chavez
Photo: Lisa Mason
Plant of the Week - Hopflower Oregano

Scientific Name - Origanum libanoticum

Hopflower oregano is a perennial, lavender flower enclosed in chartreuse colored bracts that bloom between summer and fall. It grows 12-to-18 inches tall and 18-to-24 inches wide. This flower needs moderate amounts of water and looks great draped over walls or boulders; otherwise it may look droopy if grown on a flat surface.  For more information, click here.

Author: Brooke Sayre-Chavez
Want to Learn More About Bees? Did You Check Out the Field Guide?

Native Bee Watch: A Colorado Citizen Science Field Guide is used to train citizen scientists to monitor native bees. It is also a great resource for learning about other bees in your community. Contents include basic pollination biology, eusocial and solitary bee characteristics, differentiating bees from flies and wasps, and identifying eight different morphological categories.

You can download the field guide here !
Photo: Nicole Didero
A squash bee, Peponapis pruinosa , at Lisa's parents' house in Centennial.
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