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RE: [beemonitoring] "common names"

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  • Dave Hunter
    Here s a small view from the outside. What s the intent? Do we want gardeners aware of bees and be able to loosely identify them, or are we more concerned
    Message 1 of 44 , Sep 5, 2012

      Here’s a small view from the outside.


      What’s the intent?  Do we want gardeners aware of bees and be able to loosely identify them, or are we more concerned about their respect for the proper name?


      The common gardener seems to memorize names that are easy.  They have potentially too many things to consider memorizing, and a result, don’t? 


      I speak to many garden groups, fruit clubs, etc. To most people, there are only 5 bees.  honey, bumble, all wasps, all hornets, and everything else.


      My plan of enlightenment to increase their knowledge is through slow introduction.  I’ve introduced mason bees a few years ago through “bee-mail”.  The message has slowly evolved into “social and solitary” bees.  This simply floors people, but they listen as I’m using the common bee names.  The message is slowly progressing to “spring & summer solitary bees.” 


      The 3,500 or so followers to Bee-Mail are now learning about leafcutters, hornfaced, blue orchard, wool carder, californica, coloradensis, etc.  Later, we’re going to help them slowly learn what’s around them by state.  My company is small, but our message will hopefully be simple and loud.


      I believe that bees(pollinators) are slowly reaching the tipping point.  There has been enough press about CCD and other honey bee issues resulting with gardeners opening their eyes to a lack of bees in their yards.  …or potentially noticing that there are more than the 5 “bees” mentioned above. 


      It’s tough to find out what this “quickly buzzing thing” in their yard is.  They try to take a picture, look for “bee identifying” or something simple, and quickly get stumped.  …or at least I’m hearing that from multiple people.  We’re collaborating with Univ of Florida (Jason Graham) and the Logan Bee lab to help people get some of their bees ID’d… and then teaching people over social media what they are.  (Facebook, twitter, pinterest, etc.)


      Bottom line, the easy to remember names will get remembered.  Tougher, scientific names won’t.  If there’s no easy name, the public will try to fill one in.  Andrena crataegi, since it pollinates apples in NY, might be considered the “big apple bee”.



      Dave Hunter

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      O. 425.949.7954

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       Click below to hear the buzz!

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      From: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com [mailto:beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Peter Bernhardt
      Sent: Wednesday, September 05, 2012 10:24 AM
      To: Doug Yanega
      Cc: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [beemonitoring] "common names"



      Dear Doug:


      In a way, you are preaching to the choir here.  Please note, I've written a book about the general public and their response to scientific names.  It remains in print but the public isn't clamoring for it and the first edition remains to be exhausted.  Go read Bernhardt (2008) "Gods and Goddesses In The Garden; Greco-Roman Mythology and the Scientific Names of Plants (Rutgerrs U. Press) and tell me what you think.  I think I made some scientific names very cool because you can't beat Greek literature for sex and violence.


      But you're not telling the full story.  Yes, it's easy and cool to convince children to use the generic name of a fossil.  Ah, but troubles arise when you try to get them to remember and repeat the full binomial.  Tyrranosaurus rex seems to be the only binomial they are willing to handle.  Sure, they recognize Archeopteryx but now try to get them to remember Archeopteryx lithographica.   Go read the Wikkipedia on Archeopteryx.  Within the first paragraphs you'd never know there was a species name.  


      Of course, everyone can and should learn binomials but the educational process is not in place in most school systems so what do we do until it is?  Most of my popular books introduce the binomial first and then the common name(s) appears in parenthesis if it actually exists (and I don't make them up).  Remember Mister Rogers and his platypus puppets?  He turned their scientific name into a lullaby after  his baby platypus hatched,  The chorus line went "Ornithorhynchus anatinus.. anas...anas...anas."  Ah, what a shame Stephen Sondheim has retired.  


      Peter Bernhardt     

      On Wed, Sep 5, 2012 at 11:49 AM, Doug Yanega <dyanega@...> wrote:


      Peter Bernhardt wrote:

      >This is an important point. What is the value of common names when
      >we attempt to educate the public? If we stop referring to L.
      >chrysurus as a carpenter bee should we come up with another common
      >name (Japanese wood bee?) or try to convince the public to learn the
      > scientific name?
      >There is a great public resistance to scientific names in America
      >you don't see in some other English speaking countries especially
      >England and Australia. The gardening and natural history "impulse"
      >remains strong and people with some high school training in biology
      >often prefer to use scientific names (of plants, mind you) or they
      >turn the scientific name into a common name. For example, instead
      >of planting gum tree and native honeysuckles in Australia you now
      >plant eucalypts and banksias.
      >We may becoming victims of our own success. As the general public
      >becomes aware that there are many more "kinds of bees" than
      >commercial honeybees and bumblebees what do we tell them to call
      >everything else? Well, in the past we've generalized and referred
      >to yellow-faced bees, miner bees, cuckoo bees, leaf cutter bees,
      >carpenter bees etc. If you go to Youtube and look for a video of
      >Megachile sculpturalis it's listed under the name, giant Asian resin
      >bee. In England, some people call members of the genus Anthophora
      >"flower bees" (not very original). In Australia, one entomologist
      >is trying to convince people to call Amegilla bombiformis the "teddy
      >bear bee" (look it up, the name is apt). What should we be doing to
      >familiarize a well-meaning public who have never had basic school
      >training in taxonomy (plant or animal)? Should we make up common
      >names or "anglicize" genera; eg. andrenas, xylocopes, megachiles,
      >nomias etc.?
      >One thing is for certain. if the hardware and home protection
      >industry identify L. chrysurus as a "threat" to property it will get
      >a common name but it may not be the one we think is appropriate.

      I'm on the record elsewhere saying this, but I'll say this all here, as well:

      I absolutely despise the practice of *creating* brand-new "common
      names" for organisms that don't already have them. Arguments that
      people can't or won't learn scientific names are patently false,
      given that every 8-year old can spout scientific names like
      "Velociraptor", "Tyrannosaurus", "Triceratops" and "Archaeopteryx"
      from the first few times they hear them. People who are gardeners
      have no trouble with names like Chrysanthemum, Rhododendron, Petunia,
      Nasturtium, Amaryllis, etc. - all because these are the names they
      were taught to use, mostly because they WERE in common use. But even
      brand new dinosaur names - some of them hopeless tongue-twisters -
      can be picked up and used right out of the box because the people who
      use dinosaur names ALWAYS use the scientific names. I would go so far
      as to say that one of the reasons that dinosaurs are considered so
      cool - by the science geek culture, in particular - is specifically
      because they *don't* have cute, fluffy, teddy-bear nicknames.

      If the public is just now beginning to get their education about
      insects, then WE have to make a choice: do we really, truly, want to
      spend man-years of labor trying to devise freshly-minted names for a
      million or more species, or would we rather tell the public that
      insects are JUST as cool as dinosaurs, and to *prove* how cool they
      are, we use scientific names to refer to them. Ask yourself this: if
      you went up to a budding 8-year old biologist and told them "These
      critters in this picture book are called Apisaurus, Bombusaurus,
      Ceratinadon, Anthophoraptor, Andrenadon, and Xylocopteryx" they would
      soak those names up like a sponge, and regurgitate them without
      batting an eyelash, right?

      I'll point out that I'm the author of a fairly well-known insect
      field guide (to cerambycids), and when I wrote it, I made absolutely
      sure that the only common names in it were genuinely common names,
      and that they were buried in the text, rather than used as headers -
      every species that had no common name didn't get one. I've gotten
      lots of compliments on this, and no complaints. Spending time with
      coleopterists, I'll note, however, that almost never do even hobbyist
      beetle collectors use common names for *species* - and even when they
      do, e.g., for tiger beetles, they still know and recognize the
      scientific names. Evidently, beetles are much, much cooler than
      butterflies, as are the people who collect them, by extension. I say
      this tongue-in-cheek, but do NOT underestimate just how true the
      underlying point is. I know for a fact that there ARE beetle
      collectors who look down on butterfly collectors *because* the latter
      don't use scientific names.

      More to the point, in discussions I've had with other people who have
      written insect field guides - and been forced by the publisher/editor
      to make up bogus common names - that they all *disliked* and
      *disapproved* of being forced to do so. Every time a new book comes
      out that has phony common names for insects in it, we lose that much
      more ground, in that we will encounter that much more resistance if
      we try to publish anything that does not follow suit. Bad precedents
      have been set, and I would urge people to fight those precedents and
      stick up for principles. If dinosaurs and flowers and beetles can do
      it, WE can do it.

      The general public is *prefectly capable* of learning and using
      scientific names in common speech, even if only - as Peter noted - in
      "anglicized" form, like banksias and eucalypts. But we are the ones
      who should decide which path we want to follow. If the consensus is
      cute-n-fluffy, then at least I'll have said my piece in opposition.
      I'd just feel sorry for Jason Gibbs and John Ascher, having to come
      up for "common names" for a few hundred Dialictus and Andrena... ;-)


      Doug Yanega Dept. of Entomology Entomology Research Museum
      Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314 skype: dyanega
      phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
      "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
      is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82


    • Brian Dykstra
      Visit this Utah State University extension website to participate in coming up with common names for native bees http://extension.usu.edu/aitc/bees/name.htm
      Message 44 of 44 , Sep 24, 2012
        Visit this Utah State University extension website to participate in coming up with common names for native bees

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