September 22, 2022

Color Variation in Bees

Occasionally you run into a bee that looks like it should be one species, but has noticeable red, yellow, or white in an area that it wouldn't normally have. This can make identification difficult, and a great example of why you can't just focus on one field mark but have to look at the whole bee when making an identification.

What causes this?
Color variation is usually caused by damage to the bee during the larval stage. Can also be leucism (kind of partial albinism), or melanism.

Affected species?
Most commonly seen in Bombus impatiens, but many other Bombus species have been recorded with variations. Occasionally seen outside of Bombus.

Bombus impatiens melanistic

Bombus griseocollis

Bombus bimaculatus

Bombus perplexus Dark form

Bombus fervidus Leusistic Not a color variant, just weird hair loss making it appear to be something else.

Outside of Bombus:
Anthophora abrupta
At the time of writing this, there is no literature that mentions color variations for A abrupta, although I am aware of a paper being written. To the best of my knowledge, this observation was the first time this variation was noticed.

Posted on September 22, 2022 09:08 PM by neylon neylon | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 04, 2022

Natural Land Divisions

Back in February I was at a workshop showing the natural land divisions in my state, IL. It was interesting and later when looking at range maps for different bees I noticed that some species ranges seem to line up with where a division line is. For some species this has been hard to see: some species have limited observations, and some areas have noticeably higher human population which may be skewing the data. But there are two species that have a decent amount of observations that are interesting.

Bombus rufocinctus (Red-belted Bumble Bee). There is a noticeable drop in observations when you hit the Wisconsin Driftless Division, in all four states that contain driftless. Also drops in the Grand Prairie Division.

Xylocopa virginica (Eastern Carpenter Bee). This one is interesting. Commonly found in the Northeastern Moraine Division, but in the Rock River Hill Country, all of the observations are right next to the border of either the NE Moraine or the Grand Prairie.

Less commonly reported but still noticeable:
Melissodes desponsis (Eastern Thistle Longhorn) Range appears to run around Rock River Hill Country.
Anthophora abrupta (Abrupt Digger Bee) Also drops on the Rock River Hill Country division.

I don't know if this is due to lower human population in the Hill Country and Driftless, or if this is more related to these species being more urban than ag land adapted, or if there is and land based reason that a division line would have any influence. Especially odd considering that most of these are generalist pollinators and Xylocopa at least don't nest in the ground. There are species of Andrena that have a ground preference, but I'm not sure what's in play here.

Posted on September 04, 2022 01:28 AM by neylon neylon | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 18, 2022

Why releasing Mason Bees on your property is a bad idea

In the last few weeks, I have been asked by three people questions about buying and releasing Mason Bees onto their property, so I thought I would sit down and write-up why I think that is a bad idea. All of the sources listed are free, so anyone interested can read further.

Posted on April 18, 2022 02:24 AM by neylon neylon | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 20, 2021

White Pines Christmas Bird Count

Every year come Christmas Bird Count season I do several counts, one of them is the White Pines CBC centering around Oregon IL. My area is on the SW edge near Dixon. Mostly farm land, with the Rock River dividing my territory in half (I actually have to leave the circle to get from one side of the river to the other), and a couple of Dixon City parks that have good habitat.

I wasn't expecting a good count this year: waterfowl haven't shown up in any good variety, and lack of snow on the ground means that finding birds in farm land would be difficult. But wow, in spite both of those things being true, I had a great day.

I don't usually do any pre-dawn owling for this circle because I have to drive 50 minutes to even get on site, so I typically do my owling after dark. But this year I was on site by 0600 and the air was so still it would have been a sin to not try for owls and I scored Eastern Screech-Owl, Barred Owl, and Great Horned Owl, easily the best haul I've had here. Later in the day I added two Christmas Bird Count life birds with a very photogenic Red-shouldered Hawk and a not so photogenic Northern Shrike. A dense thicket with a mountain bike trail was packed with sparrows, waxwings, Chickadees, and this titmouse eating a caterpillar.

In the end, I got 42 species, got decent coverage on the area, and even got to get home earlier, since I didn't have to stay out to look for owls. I don't usually write journal posts but I really had a good day.

Posted on December 20, 2021 10:42 PM by neylon neylon | 4 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 21, 2021

Bombus affinis

Posted on May 21, 2021 01:38 PM by neylon neylon | 1 observation | 5 comments | Leave a comment

May 20, 2021

Bombus pensylvanicus vs Bombus auricomus

This is part three for ID-a-thon.
This goes over pensylvanicus vs auricomus predominantly, but also touches on a couple of other species.

Updated to Google Slides which looks a lot better then it did on Google Docs and fixed a lot of the problems that I was having before. At this point I do need to add a section covering Bombus terricola.

Posted on May 20, 2021 08:33 PM by neylon neylon | 5 comments | Leave a comment

Distinguishing Bombus impatiens, bimaculatus, & griseocollis

This is the second part of the ID-a-thon bee presentation. Re-done in google slides, looks a lot better, will update the others in the series in this format.

Posted on May 20, 2021 01:51 AM by neylon neylon | 16 comments | Leave a comment

May 19, 2021

Bumble Bees vs other Insects

I made this for the upcoming ID-a-thon, it's basically a brief look at Bumble Bees and some of the groups that I see commonly mistaken for them.

Updated to slides.

Posted on May 19, 2021 01:43 AM by neylon neylon | 2 comments | Leave a comment