Tuesday, February 28, 2023

The Real Buzzzz!

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Behavior, Nature, Wildlife, Biodiversity

Ed Hessler

Reporting from Grand Forks for MPR News (February 7, 2023), Dan Gunderson announced "Minnesota has a very diverse native bee population" based on results of the compilation of "the first comprehensive list of more than 500 species of bees native to Minnesota."

I hadn't known about the previous 1919 survey of bees, in fact it was the only Minnesota bee survey. The list included 66 different kinds of bees although this survey was never intended to be comprehensive. So Gunderson's welcome news has been a long time coming and has taken a considerable amount of field and laboratory work (where identification occurs). 

And because some bees are specialists you have to be in the field when the plants you have been wondering about are in bloom to find which bees visit them, e.g., trout lily, spring beauty, pickerel weed.

Identification is simply the basic background for biologists who study organisms. Who is it - the thing you are looking at, your subject of research and interest in the first place? Knowing this then makes it possible after a lot of hard, often time consuming work over years as surveys are conducted on the status of a population--stable, growing, declining.

Gunderson's report includes a short video (38 s) with DNR bee specialist Nicole Gejerts, comments by Gejerts, comments by Zach Portman at the Cariveau Native Bee Lab (linked in article) at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. 
Portman mentions that he has "identified about 200,000 bee specimens in the last 13 years",there is a gallery tour of bee photographs, even a short discussion of bee taxonomy, and what happens to the bees that are identified and collected and why that is important to research scientists. 
h/t and thanks to Craig S. for calling Gunderson's reporting to my attention.

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