Yellow Jackets

With winter approaching and food sources dwindling honey bee colonies are starting to be harassed by pests. Yellow Jackets are one of the most common pests, they feed on bees, larva, brood, honey bee bread and pretty much anything they can take advantage of in the hive. During this time of year when robbing becomes a problem, the yellow jackets will follow. During the chaos there is an open opportunity for yellow jackets to move in and take advantage of the situation. In Butte County, CA it was a very dry year so the yellow jackets will be a more serious problem with the lack…

Continue Reading →

Phorid Fly (Light Trapping)

The past few months I have been trying to capture honey bees that are infected with Phorid Flies in the Chico, CA area. So what is a Phorid Fly? It is a fly commonly referred to as the humpback-fly because of its appearance. Previously the fly was known to parasitize bumble bees and paper wasps but has now transferred host and is able to reproduce using the honey bee (Apis mellifera). It has been termed the “Zombee” because once parasitized, the honey bee behaves irregularly, taking flight at night and dying away from the hive. More information on this name and the fly can be…

Continue Reading →

Antlions (Myrmeleontidae)

Previously I wrote a blog about an insect known as a “Wormlion.” I suspected this insect to be an Antlion at first. I then figured that not many people knew what an Antlion was so I figured I would blog about them. Antlions are in the order Neuroptera which in English translates into “nerve-wings.” An Antlion is the larval stage of the insect; these are also referred to as “doodle-bugs.” They call them doodle-bugs because when you place these insects on sand or loose dirt, they will crawl backwards making a distinguishable trail and eventually burrow down into the medium. In the wild you can…

Continue Reading →

Sorting Insect Specimens

In previous blogs I have talked about catching, pinning, labeling and storing insects. I am going to talk about how I process the samples to conserve space. This process is simple but takes time. I started out with a bug case with a few different series of bees and other insects. There is an image of the case I started with above. I go through the case and write down all the location labels and how many insects are in each series. If there are specimens in the series that have plant information I will write that down as well. One such example would be…

Continue Reading →

Observing retinue behavior.

On Thursday, Mike and I attempted to observe retinue behavior. So what is retinue behavior? Retinue behavior is the action of worker bees towards the queen including antennating, grooming and trophallaxis. A substance produced by the mandibular glands of the queen is thought to be the trigger for this retinue behavior. Antennating is the tapping movement of the antennae displayed by the bees in the presence of a queen. Grooming consists of worker bees cleaning and managing the appearance of the queen. Trophallaxis is the transfer of food or communication with the queen. To observe retinue behavior we followed the protocol complied by Dr. Yusuf…

Continue Reading →

Wormlion (Vermilionidae)

On a recent trip I stumbled onto pits in sandy soil. The first thing that came to mind was Antlions which congregate in dry soil. They sit in the bottom of the pits and wait for unsuspecting prey to fall in. Upon further investigation I found that there were small worm-like larvae in the bottom of these pits. They were somewhat strange looking having no pronounced prolegs or large sclerotinized mandibles to grab prey with. So once I figured out that these were not Antlions I figured I’d throw in some prey to see what happened. When I did, I was surprised. The larvae grabbed…

Continue Reading →

Velvet Ants (Mutillidae)

On a recent adventure into the Ishi Wilderness...(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishi_Wilderness) I stumbled onto my second Velvet Ant (Mutillidae) in California. This one was similar to the first species I saw. There are a few images below that show the first one I collected. Mike also found a Velvet Ant that looked to be the same species. Velvet ants are so named because of their dense hair that can be gold, black, orange or a variety of other colors. I have both specimens in captivity now. One fascinating thing I found about these ants is they make squeaking noises by stridulation which means that they make sounds by…

Continue Reading →

Bee Beard

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiVTZbISMcE Last Saturday Rob and I volunteered to participate in the Patrick Ranch’s annual Country Faire and Threshing Bee. For more information about the event visit: http://site.patrickranchmuseum.org/index.html We got a call from Yvonne Koehnen earlier last week asking if we would be interested in doing a bee beard for the honey bee exhibit at the fair. The Koehnen family has been beekeeping since 1907. For more on the Koehnen family visit: http://www.koehnen.com/ I had never done a bee beard before so I was excited about the invitation. We put our weekend plans to fish the McCloud River on hold and happily accepted Yvonne’s invitation. There…

Continue Reading →

Spring Collecting In Northern California

Spring in Northern California has been good for collecting different native bee species along with other flower visiting insects. With summer approaching fast, native bees are thriving on yellow flowering plants such as Yellow Star Thistle (Centaurea solstitialis) and Great Valley Gumplant (Grindelia camporum). On these two species of flowers I collected 6 genera including Megachile, Triepeolus, Mellisodes, Osmia, Ceratina and Lasioglossum. There is an image below and at the end showing some of the bees collected and pinned. I also collected some other insects and arthropods in Siskiyou County. I found some swallowtails (Papilio sp.) congregating near a stream bank in the late afternoon.…

Continue Reading →

Pest and predators of honey bees

As the weather starts to warm and flowers start to bloom, honey bee colonies start hoarding pollen and nectar to rear brood. At the same time, honey bee pests start to awaken from their winter slumbers or eclose from an egg. What are these pest interested in? Most pests feed on the bees themselves, bee brood (for protein), sugar/corn syrup or pollen patties. The chances of these pests attacking hives are higher when food is scarce or when there are large apiaries of 40 or more hives. Some beekeepers use electric fences in hopes to deter some of these pests (image below of an electric…

Continue Reading →

Be Involved. Be Included.Bee Informed.

Donate Now ! →