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RE: [beemonitoring] Alternative Methodology Question

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  • Greenstone, Matt
    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
    Message 1 of 15 , Nov 8, 2012
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      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?

       

      Respectfully,

       

      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.

       

      mhg

       

      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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    • Virginia L Scott
      Hi Jessica As others have said, to get accurate *species* level bee identifications, you have to collect specimens, but I work in a Museum, so obviously I
      Message 2 of 15 , Nov 8, 2012
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        Hi Jessica

         

        As others have said, to get accurate *species* level bee identifications, you have to collect specimens, but I work in a Museum, so obviously I don’t have a problem with killing insects. 

         

        I’d just like to put a spin on this thread and advocate for the dead.  Collecting specimens not only provides you with material that can be accurately identified for your study, it also provides vouchers that other researchers can refer back to as taxonomy advances (which it inevitably will).  But those same specimens can be used in a myriad of other ways.  We loan specimens all the time for taxonomic and systematic study.  This is no longer simply based on morphology, but increasingly involves DNA extraction.  While an exceptional photograph may show the morphology needed to identify a specimen to species, it will never provide DNA.  For that, you need specimens.  Catalogues and species lists for given areas are based on archived specimens.  Without those specimens, how would we gain the knowledge necessary to compile these baseline data?  Consider the fact that museum specimens are used by ecologists for the basis of their research and natural heritage programs to determine what may need to be protected.  Additionally, specimens are used to educate the public through exhibits, open houses, and identification services and undergraduates through behind-the-scenes collections tours and even employment opportunities.  We often host art students and faculty who request (limited) access to photograph or sketch specimens.  One of our Bombus nevadensis is the basis for artwork, soon to be appearing on a bus shelter across from campus.  Talk about public education!

         

        Museums document history through artifacts and specimens, and we must keep in mind that today is tomorrow’s history.  If we stop collecting, we ultimately loose our history.  I would highly recommend getting in touch with a collection that could serve as a repository for your specimens prior to doing any collecting so that the specimens can be collected and preserved in a way (and with complete label data) as to provide for a variety of future uses. 

         

        That being said, I do occasionally run into people who do not want me collecting on their property.  That is their right, and I respect that.  At the same time, I don’t waste my time and effort pretending to do science when I can’t collect voucher specimens or provide accurate identifications (usually with the help of others).

         

        Just a Museum perspective,

        Va

        Virginia Scott

        Entomology – Collections Manager

        University of Colorado Museum of Natural History

        265 UCB – MCOL

        Boulder, CO 80309-0265

        Work: 303-492-6270

        http://cumuseum.colorado.edu/Research/Entomology/ColoBees/

         

        From: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com [mailto:beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Jessica Beckham
        Sent: Thursday, November 08, 2012 9:41 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

         

      • Sam Droege
        Hi Jessica You have seen some nice thoughtful replies to your questions from the list and undoubtedly you have gotten more offline. Similar to what Jack has
        Message 3 of 15 , Nov 8, 2012
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          Hi Jessica

          You have seen some nice thoughtful replies to your questions from the list and undoubtedly you have gotten more offline.

          Similar to what Jack has mentioned, I would say that if you want to document bee diversity you will have to be working with specimens that have been killed simply because their ID is difficult and nobody can identify all bee captured to the species level in an area without having them on a pin.

          We all have to wrestle with the moral aspects of killing our study animals, and justify it to our funders and collaborators, but see some of the lines of reasoning below that I use that I think diminish the need to worry about our impacts on the population.  These are meant as simple bullet points to use when thinking about the topic.



          1.  We often run studies where we run bowls in the same place for several days.  We always continue to get bees throughout the time period, usually the last run is about half the first.
          2.  The average bee has a flight period of 5 weeks, thus bowls only capture one fraction of all the bees that come out throughout the year.
          3.  Many of the bees captures are Lasioglossum and Halictus, those groups are Eusocial so many of the bees captured are not reproductive
          4.  Solitary bees (99% of the catch) make a series of cells, each cell is independent of the other and not usually tended by the female and if the female dies (from bowls or whatever) the cells created are "good to go" thus, on average, only half a captured female's potential progeny output are affected
          5.  Males do not provide parental care of any kind and thus their captures have little impact on the next generation.
          6.  Overall mortality of bees from bowls compared to the thousands of bees present in a given field is almost certainly not additive but compensated for through higher births, lower deaths, and immigration.  No studies have shown a next year impact from sampling, for example.
          7.  The number of bees in any area is high and sources of mortality from predators, bad weather, pesticides, parasites, disease, and cuckoo bees far outweigh mortality from a bowl sample.


          That is the rational response to , but it does not really speak to the emotional responses we have to the killing of things we study.  Yet, we have to be careful, perhaps, in the lines of reasoning that we apply to this topic.  There is a completely understandable tendency to transfer the complex and well reasoned value systems we have created for humans, and for some, all vertebrate animals, whole cloth to that of bees.  However, to apply an animal rights system based on vertebrates to the killing of bees for scientific study is difficult to do consistently for all insects in our lives.   It is even more difficult to demonstrate philosophically that we should try to diminish our killing of bees, but that it is ok to actively kill other insects.  This is simply because we overlook the many invertebrates we kill every day.     For example, the Dutch have documented that they kill billions of insects each month simply from insects striking their licence plates as they drive.  This is nothing new (other than the quantification of the deaths)  but is the death of insects something that most people think about in their internal formulation of whether to drive somewhere or not?  So, in a system that tries to reduce the unintended death of bees, (requiring a high cost in time, statistical power, and other resources) what of looking at those deaths we generate from driving our vehicles, mowing our grass, the use of pesticides (organic or not), and washing our clothes (killing many millions of dust mites over our life time) and ask why we do not apply these values equally.

          This is a good topic, and it clearly creates internal reactions in all of us, but there are many interesting levels to consider that I think have not been considered fully in the past.  In the end, we all have to make up our own minds and since we are all different there will always be many strategies at play in the world of bee study.  Not killing bees because it makes us uncomfortable is a completely valid reason to look at alternatives...it is the inspection and balancing of the big picture that continues to fascinates me.

          sam

                                                        
          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
          Http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov
                                                        
                    Death is like the insect
                    Menacing the tree,
                    Competent to kill it,
                    But decoyed may be.


                    Bait it with the balsam,
                    Seek it with the knife,
                    Baffle, if it cost you
                    Everything in life.


                    Then, if it have burrowed
                    Out of reach of skill,
                    Ring the tree and leave it,--
                    'T is the vermin's will.
                           -Dickinson




          From:Jessica Beckham <jessbeck47@...>
          To:"beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com" <beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com>
          Date:11/08/2012 11:42 AM
          Subject:[beemonitoring] Alternative Methodology Question
          Sent by:beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com





           

          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



        • David_r_smith@fws.gov
          I couldn t agree more with Virginia s recent post on the value of collecting the voulcher specimens. There are some bees I could probably ID if they were live
          Message 4 of 15 , Nov 8, 2012
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            I couldn't agree more with Virginia's recent post on the value of collecting the voulcher specimens.  There are some bees I could probably ID if they were live and bouncing around in a plastic vial or even chilled.  But I wouldn't bet the ranch on those IDs.  A diversity study is only as good as the accuracy of the species ID.  I send specimens to studbnts working on genera revisions, Bombus specimens to a student here study parasites.  

            Are you certain that the native bees that are currently using urban gardens in Denton, Texas have limited populations?  Another thing to consider is how many gardens are there in Denton that support native bees, how many bees are you sampling over how long.  Just exactly how many bees across the landscape will you eventually be removing?  On a per garden basis, it probably isn't that many.




            Jessica Beckham <jessbeck47@...>
            Sent by: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com

            11/08/2012 09:42 AM

            Please respond to
            Jessica Beckham <jessbeck47@...>

            To
            "beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com" <beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com>
            cc
            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


          • Rykken, Jessica
            This is a pretty good article on the general topic of killing insects for research. http://www.biology.ualberta.ca/bsc/pdf/whywekillbugs.pdf Jessica Rykken
            Message 5 of 15 , Nov 8, 2012
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              This is a pretty good article on the general topic of killing insects for research.
               
              Jessica Rykken
              Research Associate
              Museum of Comparative Zoology
              Harvard University
              26 Oxford St.
              Cambridge, MA 02138
              phone:  617-496-1221 or 413-665-0412
              fax:  617-495-5667
               
               
            • Kvisberglien Evie Christiansen
              I have seen that the experienced field workers here use compressed CO2, the kind used for bicycles (used for filling flat tires). They are available in any
              Message 6 of 15 , Nov 8, 2012
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                I have seen that the experienced field workers here use compressed CO2, the kind used for bicycles (used for filling flat tires). They are available in any decent size sports store and are in a handy size. It knocks the bumble bee out for long enough to identify it, and it seems unharmed when it takes off again.

                 

                They simply put the bumble bee in a dram glass (with a few holes in the lid). Insert the tip of the CO2-container (small and handheld, fits in your pocket) and give the bumble bee a doze. I haven’t seen it tested on bees, but I suppose it works on them as well.

                 

                The ones that can’t be identified in the field can be brought home for proper id.

                 

                I plan to use this method next summer for my next project J

                 

                 


                Best regards
                Evie Christiansen Kvisberglien

                Norwegian Public Roads Administration 

                Before printing, think about the environment

                 

              • Jessica Beckham
                Dear Beemonitoring Group, I just wanted to send a thank you out for all of the thoughtful, informative responses that y all provided!  What an intelligent
                Message 7 of 15 , Nov 9, 2012
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                  Dear Beemonitoring Group,

                  I just wanted to send a thank you out for all of the thoughtful, informative responses that y'all provided!  What an intelligent group of people -- what I wouldn't give to have a cup of coffee with each of you!  I have truly enjoyed reading the responses and am still synthesizing the ideas, philosophies, and techniques.  I will certainly be trying out some of the suggested alternative methods as I work on my project.  

                  Additionally, I appreciate the lines of reasoning that were given regarding the collection and use of dead specimens.  Being able to explain the benefits of preserved specimens, as well as posing the logical argument that we each likely kill more insects with our cars than with bowls or nets, should prove useful in the (maybe inevitable?) event that I must explain to citizens why I am collecting and killing bees.  

                  And as for the question that came up a couple of times regarding whether bees in my area are truly declining -- the truth is that we don't actually know, as baseline data are not, to the best of our knowledge, available for our area.  (If someone knows differently, please let me know!)      

                  Thank you all so much.

                  Sincerely,
                  Jessica Beckham



                  From: Kvisberglien Evie Christiansen <evie.christiansen@...>
                  To: "beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com" <beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com>
                  Sent: Friday, November 9, 2012 1:59 AM
                  Subject: Re: [beemonitoring] Alternative Methodology Question

                   
                  I have seen that the experienced field workers here use compressed CO2, the kind used for bicycles (used for filling flat tires). They are available in any decent size sports store and are in a handy size. It knocks the bumble bee out for long enough to identify it, and it seems unharmed when it takes off again.
                   
                  They simply put the bumble bee in a dram glass (with a few holes in the lid). Insert the tip of the CO2-container (small and handheld, fits in your pocket) and give the bumble bee a doze. I haven’t seen it tested on bees, but I suppose it works on them as well.
                   
                  The ones that can’t be identified in the field can be brought home for proper id.
                   
                  I plan to use this method next summer for my next project J
                   
                   

                  Best regards
                  Evie Christiansen Kvisberglien

                  Norwegian Public Roads Administration 

                  Before printing, think about the environment
                   


                • elaineceleste
                  RE knocking bees out temporarily for ID......I remember some studies from the 90s that found increased larval ejection in bumble bee colonies following CO2
                  Message 8 of 15 , Nov 10, 2012
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                    RE knocking bees out temporarily for ID......I remember some studies from the 90s that found increased larval ejection in bumble bee colonies following CO2 narcosis of workers. I haven't looked into this lately to know if people figured out all of what was going on there, but I've been avoiding its use to be on the safe side.
                    -Elaine

                    Elaine Evans
                    PhD Student, Dept of Entomology
                    University of Minnesota
                    219 Hodson Hall, 1980 Folwell Ave
                    Saint Paul MN 55108
                    612-625-5764 evan0155@...
                    www.befriendingbumblebees.com
                  • Anita M. Collins
                    Honey bee queens are routinely anesthetized with CO2 for artificial insemination and then retreated a day later to help start oviposition. with workers it does
                    Message 9 of 15 , Nov 11, 2012
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                      Honey bee queens are routinely anesthetized with CO2 for artificial insemination and then retreated a day later to help start oviposition.  with workers it does seem to remove short term memory, like location of nectar plants. 
                      Anita Collins
                       
                       
                       
                       
                      If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research.
                      Albert Einstein
                       
                      On 11/10/12, elaineceleste<fuzzybumblebee@...> wrote:
                       
                       

                      RE knocking bees out temporarily for ID......I remember some studies from the 90s that found increased larval ejection in bumble bee colonies following CO2 narcosis of workers. I haven't looked into this lately to know if people figured out all of what was going on there, but I've been avoiding its use to be on the safe side.
                      -Elaine

                      Elaine Evans
                      PhD Student, Dept of Entomology
                      University of Minnesota
                      219 Hodson Hall, 1980 Folwell Ave
                      Saint Paul MN 55108
                      612-625-5764 evan0155@...
                      www.befriendingbumblebees.com

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