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Progress towards large and small scale surveys of bees

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  • Sam Droege
    The Survey of Native Bees Update and Projections (non-Freudian) As those of you who have been on this list know, our office has been working towards a
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 17, 2009
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      The Survey of Native Bees – Update and Projections (non-Freudian)



      As those of you who have been on this list know, our office has been working towards a development of a set of networks to inventory and monitor native bees.


      Initially, we thought we would hold a meeting this year and use that to springboard a larger effort.  Well, finances have intervened, and we have had to look at alternatives and we will use the connectivity of the web to provide a new platform for discussions.


      Here is what is going on right now.


      Number of Samples Needed to Survey


      We have been working with Gretchen LeBuhn, Ed Connor, and a variety of researchers who have long-term data sets to look at the variability of bee population counts and how that variability impacts the numbers of samples needed to survey bees under a variety of scenarios.  We are developing a web site with our collaborators that will present that information (and a follow-up paper) which should be open sometime over the next month.


      Survey Techniques


      As part of the above mentioned web site we have been perusing the literature on bee survey techniques.  There exists a diverse set of survey techniques for capturing bees, and abbreviating a longer discussion of tradeoffs, we have focused on the use of what Non-North American’s call Moericke traps.  These are essentially large colored receptacles (dish tubs, large pans, etc.) that can hold a fair amount of liquid that are run continuously throughout the bee flight season; bees usually removed weekly.  In North America this technique has really only been exploited in some experimental work and via the very similar Buchman Funnel Trap (which places a funnel over the top of a receptacle).


      The advantage of a Moericke style trap is that it is constantly capturing bees and thus day effects and phenological shifts are minimized.  Additionally, it has the advantages of low cost and low tending effort as they only have to be collected once a week or less.


      You can expect an email with information on how you can help define the pros and cons of this technique soon.


      Batch Processing of Specimens


      There are many steps between the capture of a bee and the production of a valid bee record in a database.  About 80% of the effort of any survey program involves the post-capture processing.  Consequently, any decrease in processing effort will generate a large decrease in overall program costs.   


      Processing of specimens has a tradition rooted in museum work.   This tradition generates museum quality specimens that meet the requirements for museums.  This tradition is compatible with but not necessary for a survey program.  In this regard, we have developed the following procedures (outlined below) that can be used to save processing time without shortcutting the need for repeatable and verifiable data.


      Batch Bee Washing and Drying

      Pinning only a set of vouchers

      Identifying bees not on pins


      Discoverlife Web Site Innovations


      Generating Labels via the Web

      Scannable labels with unique identifiers

      Labels linked to database and to online maps


      Over the next few weeks we will be uploading more slide show and powerpoint presentations to illustrate some of these points.


      As usual comments are more than welcome throughout this process.





      The Bee Meeting


      Who are these people at the bridge to meet me? They are the villagers----

      The rector, the midwife, the sexton, the agent for bees.

      In my sleeveless summery dress I have no protection,

      And they are all gloved and covered, why did nobody tell me?

      They are smiling and taking out veils tacked to ancient hats.


      I am nude as a chicken neck, does nobody love me?

      Yes, here is the secretary of bees with her white shop smock,

      Buttoning the cuffs at my wrists and the slit from my neck to my knees.

      Now I am milkweed silk, the bees will not notice.

      They will not smell my fear, my fear, my fear.


      Which is the rector now, is it that man in black?

      Which is the midwife, is that her blue coat?

      Everybody is nodding a square black head, they are knights in visors,

      Breastplates of cheesecloth knotted under the armpits.

      Their smiles and their voices are changing. I am led through a beanfield.


      Strips of tinfoil winking like people,

      Feather dusters fanning their hands in a sea of bean flowers,

      Creamy bean flowers with black eyes and leaves like bored hearts.

      Is it blood clots the tendrils are dragging up that string?

      No, no, it is scarlet flowers that will one day be edible.


      Now they are giving me a fashionable white straw Italian hat

      And a black veil that molds to my face, they are making me one of them.

      They are leading me to the shorn grove, the circle of hives.

      Is it the hawthorn that smells so sick?

      The barren body of hawthon, etherizing its children.


      Is it some operation that is taking place?

      It is the surgeon my neighbors are waiting for,

      This apparition in a green helmet,

      Shining gloves and white suit.

      Is it the butcher, the grocer, the postman, someone I know?


      I cannot run, I am rooted, and the gorse hurts me

      With its yellow purses, its spiky armory.

      I could not run without having to run forever.

      The white hive is snug as a virgin,

      Sealing off her brood cells, her honey, and quietly humming.


      Smoke rolls and scarves in the grove.

      The mind of the hive thinks this is the end of everything.

      Here they come, the outriders, on their hysterical elastics.

      If I stand very still, they will think I am cow-parsley,

      A gullible head untouched by their animosity,


      Not even nodding, a personage in a hedgerow.

      The villagers open the chambers, they are hunting the queen.

      Is she hiding, is she eating honey? She is very clever.

      She is old, old, old, she must live another year, and she knows it.

      While in their fingerjoint cells the new virgins


      Dream of a duel they will win inevitably,

      A curtain of wax dividing them from the bride flight,

      The upflight of the murderess into a heaven that loves her.

      The villagers are moving the virgins, there will be no killing.

      The old queen does not show herself, is she so ungrateful?


      I am exhausted, I am exhausted ----

      Pillar of white in a blackout of knives.

      I am the magician's girl who does not flinch.

      The villagers are untying their disguises, they are shaking hands.

      Whose is that long white box in the grove, what have they accomplished, why am I cold.


      -    Sylvia Plath




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