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191Re: [beemonitoring] using a modified leafblower to collect bees

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  • Julianna K Tuell
    Feb 13, 2008
      Sam Droege asked me to send out a detailed description of the modified
      leafblower that was used in Michigan to collect flower visitors, because it
      may be of interest to members of this list. Every method used to collect
      insects has certain biases, but we found that vacuum sampling ended up
      collecting similar numbers of both large and small bees to those recorded
      during timed observations at the same flowering plots by trained
      individuals. One obvious advantage of vacuum sampling is that it can be
      conducted by someone with very little training.

      A Stihl leafblower and vacuum converter kit were purchased from a certified
      Stihl dealer. My colleague, Anna Fiedler, who purchased the components and
      conducted most of the sampling said it was very easy to assemble and use.
      She added two screws a couple inches from the end of the intake tube (not
      sure if this was part of the kit or if this was something extra she did on
      her own) so that she could use rubber bands to hold a handmade mesh bag
      (made of no-see-um mesh) over the end for collecting the insects. She
      vacuumed each 1m^2 plot's flowers for 30 seconds and then while the
      leafblower was still on, she would quickly remove the mesh bag, close it and
      then place it in a cooler to immobilize the insects in the bag so that they
      could be transferred to a ziplock bag without losing any individuals. In
      this way she could reuse the mesh bag for another sample on the same day and
      she only needed to carry 4 mesh bags.

      Here is the link to the actual model leafblower that was used:

      You can find out more details on the natural enemies part of the project via
      these two references:

      Fiedler, A. and Landis, D.A. 2007. Attractiveness of Michigan native plants
      to arthropod natural enemies and herbivores. Environmental Entomology 36:

      Fiedler, A. and Landis, D.A. 2007. Plant characteristics associated with
      natural enemy abundance at Michigan native flowering plants. Environmental
      Entomology 36: 878-886.

      The manuscript for the bee part of the project has been accepted with
      revision and should appear later this year, also in Environmental


      Julianna K. Tuell, PhD
      Department of Entomology
      Michigan State University
      202 Center for Integrated Plant Systems
      East Lansing, MI 48824
      Lab: (517) 432-9554