A Citizen Science Project Exploring Bee Biodiversity in Northern Colorado
Native Bee Watch Newsletter #32
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! 
Happy Holidays from Native Bee Watch!
From the CSU Pollination Biology Lab

Congratulations, Colton! Check out this article, Hemp fields offer a late-season pollen source for stressed bees , recently published in Science News , talking about his research on bees pollinating hemp fields.

Visit the CSU Pollination Biology website for updates on projects and research happening in the lab.
Cape Grey Mongooses and Large-Spotted Genets Pollinate Sugar Bush Plants

Researchers have recently discovered an interesting pollination relationship between carnivorous mammals and sugar bush plants. The cape grey mongoose ( Galerella pulverulenta ) and the large-spotted genet ( Genetta tigrine ), which are both typically meat-eating mammals, have been found pollinating sugar bush plants ( Protea sp .) in South Africa. Based on what scientists could see from camera traps they had set up in the area, the genets totaled around 7% of recorded visits to the flowers by mammals and birds, and the mongoose totaled around 4%. The animals will even climb branches and forage through light snow to reach the flowers. Even though they aren’t the main pollinators of the sugar bush plants, due to their larger size and need for a larger home range, they spread pollen over a much larger area than their typical pollinators.

The sugar bush flowers have stigmas that stick straight up so almost anything touching the flower will leave pollen. The animals stick their heads in the flower to reach the nectar and the pollen sticks to their fur, which then transfers to the next flower when they move on for more nectar. The flowers also emit a strong fermenting smell which may be innately attractive to the creatures, but it’s hypothesized that the animals are mostly visiting the sugar bush plants because the nectar is like candy to them. Their main diets are still meat-filled but everyone enjoys a sweet treat every now and then!

Author: Brooke Sayre-Chavez
Sources : NewScientist.com and BBC Earth
Bee of the Week - Osmia spp.

Family - Megachilidae

Scientific Name - Osmia spp.

Osmia bees are also commonly referred to as “mason bees”. They are solitary bees that are most common in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. There are over 130 different species in the United States, and most of these are found in the western states. There are 76 species in Colorado. They can also live at a great range of elevations, from below sea level (in Death Valley) to above 12,000 ft. At high elevations, these bees often sun themselves to help maintain their body temperature.

They are some of the most important pollinators of orchards and commercial crops, and some species are even more efficient than honey bees at pollinating. Osmia lignaria , for example, can pollinate a job that would take 90,000 honey bees with less than 300 Osmia bees. Osmia bees are typically generalists but some species specialize on either whole families of plants or sometimes individual species.

Osmia bees often use other insects’ burrows, cracks in stone, old snail shells, or pine cones as their home. Some will build a nest out of mud and pebbles, but most find available spaces instead. You can encourage these bees to nest in your yard by leaving blocks of wood, bundles of straw out there or making a bee hotel!

Author: Brooke Sayre-Chavez
Plant of the Week - Sky's Edge™ scutellaria

Scientific Name - Scutellaria scordiifolia 'Pat Hayward'

The Sky's Edge™ scutellaria is a new flower, introduced this year. It has vibrant purplish-blue flowers that are good for pollination and have a long blooming period. It’s also a fairly hardy plant that grows well in dry to xeric environments and well drained soils. The plants can grow 12-16 inches tall and 16-20 inches wide.

Author: Brooke Sayre-Chavez
Source and photo: Plant Select®
What's the Buzz? Pollinators in the News

Bees, bees and more bees! Researchers find over 650 bee species in Grand Staircase-Escalante.

AI could be key in saving UK bee population. New “smart hives” will record bee behaviour and use AI to help stop the decline in bee population.

Big bees fly better in hotter temps than smaller ones do. Arizona State University researchers found that larger, tropical stingless bee species fly better in hot conditions than smaller bees. 

Neonicotinoid impairs bees’ social behavior. Researchers peer into the nest, observing that bumblebees exposed to the pesticide neglect their young.
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
Photo: Lisa Mason
Thank you to the organizations that support Native Bee Watch!
Melissodes sp. of bees on a Cosmos sp. flower. Photo: Micaela Truslove
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