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Re: [beemonitoring] Learn to Identify Your Bees to Genus - A WIKI Workbook for Eastern North America [1 Attachment]

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  • Janean Sharkey
    I think adding arrows to the images to show diagnostic/important features would be helpful. This would help beginners recognize which areas on the bee are most
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 29, 2011
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      I think adding arrows to the images to show diagnostic/important features would be helpful. This would help beginners recognize which areas on the bee are most important (and to verify that they are actually looking in the right place!) or to refresh someone with more experience as to what they should be looking for. This is tool commonly used in bird guides. 


      On Fri, Jul 29, 2011 at 4:03 PM, Sam Droege <sdroege@...> wrote:
      [Attachment(s) from Sam Droege included below]


      I consider the proper identification of bees to be the greatest bottleneck and greatest expense of ANY bee project.

      It is simply a difficult task and, what's more, there are relatively few references to bee identification available that exist in the space between the highly technical and the trivial.

      After teaching many workshops I now see that much of the struggle for the student of bee identification is simply learning, by heart, the basic characteristics of the bee genera and feeling confident of that.  There is a sense among students that this is what keys are for, but, in reality, keys are only there to help you memorize the characteristics so that you can pick up a bee and ID it without looking at the key.  For most, keys remain a crutch and they never leave them behind.

      Here in the BIML group we have spend lots of time developing Discoverlife Online identification guides.  They still need more expansion and improvement, but, in the end, they will always be technical and thus the need for something more.

      After plenty of discussions and seeing a neat guide that Gene Scarpulla created from our online slideshows of the genera, we decided that creating a workbook that people could print out would be useful.  People could page through it while taking the bus to work and have it as a handy reference at their home and office while looking at all the bees they are feeling overwhelmed about identifying.

      So, to that effect, we have mocked up a 2 page account for bee genus Andrena....and are working on putting together the material for the other genera in the East.

      That mock-up is attached and we would love to have your public/private comments about the format, the idea, and what we can add or change that would make learning and memorizing genera characteristics work for you.

      Much of bee ID really comes down to memorization.  In our next bee ID course I am planning to actually TEST participants (you have been warned) ....because studies have shown that testing = memorization.  And keying out every bee you get instead of employing shortcuts you have memorized is not the way to go.

      The pictures in the mock-up are not so great, but give you a sense of what can be there....and that is more of a question for me right now than the text....what sort of pictures are most useful?...what best creates a "mind-picture" that you will remember when you are looking through your bees?

      The workbook, like the Handy Bee Manual, will be a collaborative project, one that the BIML group will coordinate and maintain, but will not own.  As one would like from a public agency, the material will be public domain, (pictures ultimately too), and people will be free to download, modify, publish, and use in absolutely any way they wish.  However, we will be looking to you, the user and bee expert, to contribute material, suggestions, and pictures with full acknowledgements .... as, is it not your job as citizen and lover of Nature to smooth the path of those that would follow you so that there are fewer roots to trip over?

      Of course it is...



      Sam Droege  sdroege@...                      
      w 301-497-5840 h 301-390-7759 fax 301-497-5624
      USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
      BARC-EAST, BLDG 308, RM 124 10300 Balt. Ave., Beltsville, MD  20705

      "When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or
      not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot
      remember any but the things that never happened. It is sad to go to pieces
      like this but we all have to do it." -- Mark Twain

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