BEE – ing
Over the years, we’ve monitored a variety of things in our forests, from birds to amphibians and creek bugs to water temperatures. We’ve often talked about what else to add. Thanks to Molly’s work with native bees and Extension forester Amy Grotta’s encouragement to join her 2019 Oregon Bee Atlas monitoring outings at Matteson State forest, we were able to start collecting and monitoring bees in our forests.
Native bee populations are declining throughout the world, including in Oregon. In order to understand how and why this is happening, the Oregon Bee Atlas (OBA) is developing an inventory of the state’s native bees and their associated plant-hosts (where the bees collect pollen and nectar) and is conducting on-going surveys of bee populations to assess their health (https://extension.oregonstate.edu/bee-atlas/what-oregon-bee-atlas. Through OBA, native bees, collected by citizen volunteers throughout the spring and summer flowering season, are identified and become part of a publicly accessible database.
Thanks to Covid, which resulted in the OBA training materials moving online and a lot of time spent in our forests where social distancing was the norm, we were able to get very engaged in the Bee Atlas and expand our monitoring to include the bee’s host plants. To inventory the plants, Char Corkran spent many days from April through June walking Mt Richmond identifying all the flowering plants. She produced an amazing list with photos and flowering dates, which is something we’ve wanted to do for years. While Char was inventorying the plants, Pam has been collecting bees.
Although we have collected a wide range of bumble and solitary bees, the photo below shows one of our favorite bee finds. Pam was collecting bees off of goldenrod (Solidago spathulate), a bright yellow flower, at Timber (see video) when she spied what looked like a sleeping yellow faced bumble bee. She scooped it gently into her net and was surprised to find a bright yellow goldenrod crab spider (Misumena vatia) clinging to the bee’s back. The spider had its long legs wrapped around the bee with its fangs dug into the crease between the bee’s head and thorax. In the photo below, although the spider is on top of the bee, it is no longer attached so does not show the “venom” position where it inject a neurotoxin into the bee.
Click to the right for video – Timber bee on goldenrod 2