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2498RE: [beemonitoring] Alternative Methodology Question

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  • Greenstone, Matt
    Nov 8, 2012

      Although I’m not a bee biologist – I’m on this list because I have used bee bowls to collect parasitic wasps – I hope that what I say will be helpful.


      The sad irony of being a Biologist of any kind - of studying, and loving, living things - is that most life science disciplines require the killing of one’s subjects at some point, sometimes often, and when working on communities of organisms, almost continuously. This is especially true for arthropods, and will remain true until the day that the non-invasive Star-Trek-style “tri-corder” is invented. The best we can hope for at this point is to keep the killing to a minimum, and possibly to foreswear work on populations facing extinction.


      A few months ago I gave a short presentation to a group of volunteers on my parasitoid work that included an image of a whirl-pak crammed full of all of the native bees collected in 72 hours from a standard Sam Droege array of nine traps, explaining this profusion as an unfortunate “by-catch” – terrible word, almost as bad as “collateral damage!” - of my work on parasitoids. They were appalled and so was I (in my defence, the bees will all be identified and used for a publication on the native bees of the area).


      What one really needs to know in a case like this, and for one’s peace of mind,  is how large a dent we are making in local bee populations. I suspect that in floristically diverse habitats the impact is extremely small. Perhaps someone on the List can refer us to some representative density bee data?




      Matt Greenstone


      P.S. As a DNA bar-coder, I firmly believe that the day of the tri-corder is not far off. We just need to be able to read base-pair sequences without hurting the organism. If we can identify the molecules in stars 10 billion light-years away, surely we’ll crack this problem as well; let us hope in Jessica’s lifetime.




      From: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com [mailto:beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Jessica Beckham
      Sent: Thursday, November 08, 2012 11:41 AM
      To: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [beemonitoring] Alternative Methodology Question



      Hello All,


      I am a PhD student who is developing a project to assess bee pollinator diversity in urban gardens in my area (Denton, Texas).  I understand that the best methods for assessing bee diversity involve collection of bees via hand netting and bowl traps, especially for a novice at bee identification like myself.  However, I am wondering if there are any accepted no-kill methods for assessing bee diversity. The reason is that, although I have had multiple local urban gardeners and homeowners express interest in my project, some are hesitant to participate because they realize that bees are important resources and they do not want to help reduce the already limited populations.  To an extent I can see this point and am thrilled that citizens are aware of the situation that our pollinators are facing.  I thought I would address this group to see if anyone has used/knows of methodology for assessing bee diversity without killing bees.  Furthermore, has anyone dealt with similar experiences?   


      Thanks in advance!


      Jessica Beckham

      Ph.D Student

      University of North Texas, Institute of Applied Science


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