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Re: [beemonitoring] Duration of Pollen Viability in a beehive

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  • Peter Bernhardt
    Dear Liz: Yes, Andrew Beattie studied violets and other spring ephemerals but his work changed radically when he moved to Australia in the mid-1980 s. He came
    Message 1 of 10 , Feb 9, 2010
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      Dear Liz:

      Yes, Andrew Beattie studied violets and other spring ephemerals but his work changed radically when he moved to Australia in the mid-1980's.  He came to the Plant Cell Biology Research Center (now defunct) at the U. of Melbourne and worked on pollen viability under the late Bruce Knox (my advisor).  Drs. Andrew and Christine Beattie discovered that pollen grains died quickly upon adhering to the cuticle of bulldog ants.  I believe that the Beatties later went on to show that there are antibiotics in the Dufours (?) gland that ants use to clean and cover their bodies.  Aspects of this work continue to date as the Drs Beattie carry on a most active retirement.  Bees it seems do not produce the same antibiotics, or don't produce them at the same strength.  The Beatties assumed that, as ants live in soil and rotting wood, most come in contact with bacteria and spores with great regularity.  This becomes especially dangerous when they nurse their sister larvae and pupae.  That's why they coat their immature sisters with secretions from their glands.  Bees and wasps, on the other hand, raise their sisters or offspring in individual chambers of wax, resin or paper.  The chances for contamination are lower.

      The fact remains, though, that there is no obvious selective advantage for bees brining live pollen home to the burrow.  Hydrated pollen is good for the offspring living on lipids and amino acids in the cytoplasm but, surely, you don't want pollen grains that germinate prior to consumption.  That, one presumes, is why the grains are hydrated in a sugar-saturated solution. Germinating pollen grains are empty of cytoplasm and, one presumes that important nutrients are metabolized in the pollen tube.  Who knows, this may be another reason why some flowers have shifted towards beetles, hummingbirds, honeyeater birds, tangle-vein flies, most wasps, most moths and most butterflies.  Most don't feed pollen to their offspring. 

      Sincerely, Peter

      On Mon, Feb 8, 2010 at 2:58 PM, Liz Day <lizday44@...> wrote:
      Dear Peter,

      consider contacting recently retired, Dr. Andrew Beattie <<mailto:abeattie@...>abeattie@...> and his wife, Christine.

      AH.... didn't he study pollination in violets?  Or am I confused?   I often wonder whether bumblebees were involved in his research.


      Liz Day
      3221 Merrick Ln. 3B
      Indianapolis, Indiana 46222  USA
      (40 N, 86 W;  USDA zone 5b)

    • Sam Droege
      Hi Mark: Thanks for the comments. Actually we were not planning on sending out bees, just the empty tubes and were then going to see what species used the
      Message 2 of 10 , Feb 9, 2010
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        Hi Mark:

        Thanks for the comments.  Actually we were not planning on sending out bees, just the empty tubes and were then going to see what species used the tubes later in Fall by cutting them open.

        Redbud would be a good tree to use as it is planted widely and the blossoms are obvious...and Osmia do love them.

        In addition to having folks track redbud bloom it was also pointed out that just because you have finished nests it doesn't necessarily mean that bees haven't been out and about for quite a while and are simply waiting for plants to bloom.  To test that I think it would be interesting to have some sites also running bowl traps each day (this would be a fair amount of work, so I don't expect very  many site to do this).  In that way we could look at first captures in bowls, plant phenology, and nest completion rates...additionally, Wayne runs a network of honeybee hives that are weighed each day and are very sensitive to general nectar resources, these could also be added along with NASA's greenup measurements.


        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


        Weather, n. The climate of an hour. A permanent topic of conversation among persons whom it does not interest, but who have inherited the tendency to chatter about it
        from naked arboreal ancestors whom it keenly concerned. The setting up of official weather bureaus and their maintenance in mendacity prove that even governments
        are accessible to suasion by the rude forefathers of the jungle.

                      Once I dipt into the future far as human eye could see,
                      And I saw the Chief Forecaster, dead as any one can be--
                      Dead and damned and shut in Hades as a liar from his birth,
                      With a record of unreason seldom paralleled on earth.
                      While I looked he reared him solemnly, that incandescent youth,
                      From the coals that he'd preferred to the advantages of truth.
                      He cast his eyes about him and above him; then he wrote
                      On a slab of thin asbestos what I venture here to quote--
                      For I read it in the rose-light of the everlasting glow:
                      "Cloudy; variable winds, with local showers; cooler; snow."

        Halcyon Jones.

           - Ambrose Bierce

        P Bees are not optional.

        From:Mark E Kraemer <MKraemer@...>
        To:Sam Droege <sdroege@...>, "beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com" <beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com>
        Date:02/08/2010 03:53 PM
        Subject:RE: [beemonitoring] Measuring Osmia Phenology as a Measure of Climate Change - Feedback Needed

        Sam & All,
        Here are my thoughts on using Osmia as a monitor for climate change.   I’ve worked with O. lignaria in Virginia since about 2002.  
        It is likely that each geographical population of bees has adapted to local climate conditions and has its own chilling and perhaps heating degree day requirements for spring emergence.   Thus, sending cohorts from one geographical region to other regions may be a problem.  For example, if bees from a colder winter climate area are sent to a warmer one and they do not get enough chilling they will have poor emergence extended over a longer period of time, similar to fruit tree bloom when not enough chill units have been accumulated.   Nest building would be extended late into the season but have nothing to do with climate change.   If bee tubes are sent out in late winter after chilling requirements are met, you still have the problem of variable and unknown temperatures during transit.  It’s best to use local bee populations if possible.  
        I’d use eastern red bud bloom for phenological comparisons, at least in the Eastern U.S.   I found female emergence in Virginia and North Carolina closely coincides with initial bloom of Eastern redbud.  Eastern redbud provides not just pollen but nectar early in the season when few if any other trees/shrubs are flowering.   It’s a very common forest understory tree and an ornamental found throughout most of the eastern U.S.  The vast majority of pollen (>90%) that I sampled from nest cells created in the first week was redbud (4 sites), even when the trees were not nearby the shelter boxes.   Nesting was very poor and late in one site where redbuds were not found.   I would expect first nest completions to be 7-10 days after initial redbud bloom, depending on air temps.  Some of these phenology results should appear soon in Environmental Entomology.  
        I’d like to know whether our observed phenological link of female emergence with Eastern redbud bloom occurs elsewhere, and the pollen composition of the early nest cells.  If this relationship is true, and because climate has changed so radically during the past few million years, I’d speculate that the bees and trees have co-evolved a very similar mechanism for coordinating their emergence/bloom through a broad range of climate change.  
        Mark Kraemer
        Asst. Prof - research
        (804) 524-5952
        P.O. Box 9061
        Virginia State University        
        From: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com [mailto:beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Sam Droege
        Friday, February 05, 2010 1:46 PM
        [beemonitoring] Measuring Osmia Phenology as a Measure of Climate Change - Feedback Needed



        I have been corresponding with Wayne Esaias from NASA plus  Frank Parker and Vince Tepedino (both retired from USDA Logan Bee Lab) about expanding on some trial's Wayne ran last year in Maryland using trap nesting Osmia to measure climate related factors.

        Wayne has a nice Power Point of the results from last year that I will send it out separately in case it clogs up folks' email.

        We are talking about making some changes to what Wayne did last year and running another set of trials this year, in other parts of the country as further proof-of-concept.

        Here's the outline below... let me know what you think ... posting to the list would be fine as I think this would be of general interest.  In particular we likely need advice about developing the best system for housing nests.....see below.

        Here goes:


        Develop a Climate Change monitoring program using a system of measured nest completion dates (phenology) using cavity nesting Osmia.

        Some notes are warranted:  Osmia are chosen both because they are spring bees (good time for detecting weather related responses from a group of plants or animals) and, more importantly, they overwinter as adults not pupae and thus don't require rearing for identification.

        Immediate Objectives

        Develop a low-cost trial and proof-of-concept using Osmia in North America.  

        Note:  No reason this would not work in Europe/Asia either.

        Note:  There is no funding currently available so it has to be very cheap and easy to accomplish...which actually is what any monitoring program needs to be.

        Nesting Structure  

        An aggregation of regularly spaced nests with removable tubes or nesting straws. This aggregation needs to be cheap to create without any tools by a homeowner and must have a way in which the individual tubes can be easily identified.

        Ideas for creating this system would be the use of Styrofoam to hold the paper tubes and 1 liter bottles to form the shelters for the tubes.


        We think this system would work wherever Osmia occur, which should be in most locations in North America.

        Outline of Methodology

        0. A participant installs a structure of ~ 50 nesting tubes in a convenient location in late winter.

        1.  A participant takes a digital picture of the face of the trap nests once a day using a digital camera with an appropriately set date and time function.
        2.  Photo's are uploaded to a web site (Discoverlife likely) where they are ordered and titled by locality and date.

        3.  Either the observer or someone else fills out an online form that notes which cells are capped and when (along with dates in which observations were taken)

               Note:  Our current idea is to have a trap nest with a rectangular array of nest tubes.  Those nest tubes have  a corresponding online form with circles corresponding to each nest.  For each photo the form is completed with each circle marked (perhaps with a code indicating type of cap and whether it is untouched or is punctured by a hole) on the form if it has been capped.
        4.  A systematic subset of straws (half?) are removed (when removal occurs is a question in terms of effects of disturbance, maturity of nests, and parasitism...suggestions?), the straws ID number is written on it,  and sent somewhere for species ID and that information is also placed online.

        5. All data would be available immediately as it was entered for anyone to use.

        Outline of Products

        Maps and Tables for the Following (in aggregation and by species):

        1.  Species Occurrence

        2.  Nest Occupancy per Array

        3. Date of nest completion (phenology)
        4.  Number of brood cell's per Nest

        5.  Parasitism rate by host and parasite

        Phenology metrics that could be derived from these obsvations would include the beginning, end, duration of nesting completion activity and their attendant variances.

        Relationship to Climate Change

        1.  Will readily capture changes in nest completion and there are lesser possibilities of capturing range changes, fecundity, parasitism, and species composition parameters.
        2.  Will provide year-to-year change as well as long-term trends.

        3.  Will provide accurate and precise phenology data for climate modellers of an actual biological variable not just a bunch of weather variables.
        4.  Such detailed information of such precision is unlikely to be available for any other group of Hymenoptera (prove me wrong!).

        Some Ideas and Notions

        1.  Participants would all be volunteers and would be expected to have their own digital camera and pay for the shipping of their nest tubes to the processing center (and could even be asked to purchase the nest tubes)
        2.  A central group would coordinate and ship out tubes and set up the ID and processing of specimens and data.

        3.  Weather Stations would be a natural place to install nest arrays as people there are used to the regular taking and collecting of data
        and, in fact, it would likely be important to have temperature data from each site (max min thermometer, hobo temp, etc.)
        3.  A large amount of molecular grade material would be available for all sorts of interesting studies.
        4.  Lots of residual pollen would be available and could be associated with date from individual successful and unsuccessful cells for each species/location.

        5.  The development and creation of this system would be a good Master's level project for a student and I think would have reasonable attraction to funders.

        6.  This would be attractive to volunteers (They Could be Oz watchers ....), and, in fact, could be asked to subsidize the program by a fee/participant if it comes to that.

        This, of course is potentially a fair amount of work for a coordinating group...


        We think that this is a fundable idea and costs would primarily be:

        1.  Creation of a website to handle digital data (Discoverlife would be an obvious candidate)

        2.  Nest arrays or at least nesting tubes for participants

        3.  Contracted technician time to process specimens (highly trained volunteers could do most of this except for the species determinations)


        1.  Separate regional/continental/country systems for processing would obviously have to be created to account for issues of shipping living bees and wasps across country boundaries...so participation in Canada and Mexico would be predicated on either only picture taking or that there would be a group willing to have specimens shipped to them.
        2.  We are willing to run small pilots this year with no or minimal funding

        OK, fire away....its important to us to design a system that permits tracking of which INDIVIDUAL tubes have been capped...so a big clump of tubes jammed into a circular mailing tube is not useful, nor is something that requires participants to drill out holes in wood....as most folks won't be able to do that themselves.

        We are counting on you.



        Sam Droege  
        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


        It is easier to square a circle than to get round a
                                            A. De Morgan, 1840

      • Jack Neff
        Linda: Have your checked Dafni & Firmage, 2000 Pollen viability and longevity: practical, ecological and evolutionary implications Plant Systematics and
        Message 3 of 10 , Feb 10, 2010
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          Linda:  Have your checked Dafni & Firmage, 2000 "Pollen viability and longevity: practical, ecological and evolutionary implications" Plant Systematics and Evolution.  222: 113-132 or Kraal, 1962 "How long do honey-bees carry germinable pollen on them?" Euphytica 11: 53-56.  Moistened corbicular pollen has zero longevity since the added nectar causes osmotic havoc but longevity of the loose stuff will vary with the species and environmental conditions.  While some pollen can be quite long lived (i.e. some orchid pollinaria), most pollen life spans are in days or even hours.  You might also want to check DeGrandi-Hoffmann et al 1986 "Influence of honey bee in-hive pollen transfer on cross-pollination and fruit set in apple"  Environmental Entomology 15:7823-735 who propose that pollen transfer by jostling workers in the hive explains high fruit set in apple orchards where individuals workers show high constancy to particular varieties (clones).
          I believe this was later questioned because of the extent of grooming.


          John L. Neff
          Central Texas Melittological Institute
          7307 Running Rope
          Austin,TX 78731 USA

          From: Linda Newstrom <newstroml@...>
          To: Sam Droege <sdroege@...>; "beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com" <beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Sun, February 7, 2010 9:06:52 PM
          Subject: [beemonitoring] Duration of Pollen Viability in a beehive


          Hi everyone

          Can anybody lead me to people or literature on the topic of how long pollen on bees will remain viable?

          That is, if a beekeeper moved the hives from one farm to another would the pollen on the bees still be able to contaminate the crop in the new location (e.g., GM crops or seed certification issues)?




          Linda Newstrom-Lloyd


          Phone DD +64 3 321 9853

          Phone Home +64 383 4047

          Mobile 021 385 953


          From: beemonitoring@ yahoogroups. com [mailto:beemonitori ng@yahoogroups. com] On Behalf Of Sam Droege
          Sent: Saturday, 6 February 2010 11:11 a.m.
          To: beemonitoring@ yahoogroups. com
          Subject: RE: [beemonitoring] Measuring Osmia Phenology as a Measure of Climate Change - Feedback




          Actually you are right it is useful for documenting phenologies, which one would think would be known, but you are right I can't think of any off the top of my head.  However, some of the aggregate nesting bees must have had someone plot out the general ebb and flow of numbers in some paper....

          Yes, it should be a nice correlate with the plant data...and a good test into some of the notions that people have that plant and bee phenologies may go out of sync in some climate change scenarios.

          Since my long-term monitoring hat is usually the one I wear I didn't thing about the basic science idea that you had...it would actually be a very good first entree into the system.  Since funding groups generally like open-ended monitoring programs (sigh) your idea would actually be more fundable than a Climate Change one, but would easily morph into a CC as the year's progressed.

          I am actually more afraid of too many participants than too few, given that there I was going to do project in my spare time....however, if we could send western nests to you...that would allow a great deal of expansion.  Once the system is in place for uploading the pictures...there is little penalty for adding more people...its the nest processing that will add up.

          So, bottomline, yes, we should go for it, but would need to make sure we have the ability to open and run nests later this year.  I am going to be looking at a bunch of Wayne's nests in a week or so, to get a sense of how that works.

          There is also the need to come up with a good trap nest design...(that can be built at home...without a drill!)


          Sam Droege  sdroege@usgs. gov                      
          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

           Further in Summer than the Birds
          Pathetic from the Grass
          A minor Nation celebrates
          Its unobtrusive Mass.

           No Ordinance be seen
          So gradual the Grace
          A pensive Custom it becomes
          Enlarging Loneliness.

           Antiquest felt at Noon
          When August burning low
          Arise this spectral Canticle
          Repose to typify

           Remit as yet no Grace
          No Furrow on the Glow
          Yet a Druidic Difference
          Enhances Nature now

                           -- Emily Dickinson


          "Cane, Jim" <Jim.Cane@ARS. USDA.GOV>


          <beemonitoring@ yahoogroups. com>


          02/05/2010 02:41 PM


          RE: [beemonitoring] Measuring Osmia Phenology as a Measure of Climate Change - Feedback

          Sent by:

          beemonitoring@ yahoogroups. com



          Sam and others- first, let me say that this is a great concept!  But before jumping to the Holy Grail,  finding a response to climate _change_, it will be useful (very!) to even measure, map and predict the range of their phenologies across the continent, which won’t require such long time series data.  I don’t believe that such exists for any solitary bee, does it? For this bee, we know that timely emergence involves first the satisfaction of accumulated chill hours, followed by some moderate amount of heat unit accumulation.  Importantly, I think that it would also be grand to link the proposed measures to lilac bloom phenology, using the National Phenology Network, for then it would also allow for interpolation between points where we would have no Osmia lignaria data but where we do have lilac phenology data (and their powerful modeling abilities to boot).  I’ve found the lilac monitoring to be pretty painless provided you have them growing where you can check every day or two just during bloom (mine are on my bike ride home and at my house and our lab, one set right next to the campus NOAA weather station).  Read about it at:


          http://www.usanpn. org/


          Besides lilac, I think that the other really dandy relevant plant whose bloom is being monitored nation-wide is forsythia,

          http://www.usanpn. org/?q=Forsythia _spp

           I recollect that its bloom precedes fruit tree bloom by a little bit, and so O. lignaria.  Imagine being able to advise someone in some distant and unfamiliar state that x days after forsythia blooms where they live (and many people recognize forsythia), they should deploy their O. lignaria, or look for first nesting, or whatever.  We can’t do they very well right now.


          If one wanted to document climate change, last year and this year would make for a great comparison in the Intermountain West, as last year the cool spring delayed O. lignaria emergence by 3 weeks across the region.  This year they are more likely to be on time, so a 3-week jump in emergence!  I am saying this in jest, but to make a point that the noise from inter-seasonal variation will greatly confound any subtle background trend, or make for false early interpretations.  Conversely, learning if bee emergence can be tied to or predicted by any other tracked phenological event (such as lilac bloom) continent-wide would be a huge leap in understanding, and might be achieved in a few years of monitoring.  Imagine if we knew that a degree day accumulation map, or a Hardiness Zone map, accurately predicted emergence, or knew how to calculate specifically how to adjust predicted emergence dates from those mapped values!


          None of this is to throw cold water on the idea, but rather refocus a little to make very best use of the effort for fantastic shorter term insights that we currently lack for any and all bees.  I’d certainly be keen on participating, or maybe even making it work.  If we can formalize the protocol, I do believe that I could convince folks that I know at USANPN in Tucson to add this as a module if we wanted.






          ============ ========= ========= =

          James H. Cane

          USDA-ARS Bee Biology and Systematics Lab

          Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322 USA

          tel: 435-797-3879   FAX: 435-797-0461

          email: Jim.Cane@ars. usda.gov  

          http://www.ars. usda.gov/ npa/logan/ beelab

          http://www.biology. usu.edu/people/ facultyinfo. asp?username= jcane

          Gardening for Native Bees: http://extension. usu.edu/files/ publications/ factsheet/ plants-pollinato rs09.pdf


          "The obscure takes time to see,

          but the obvious takes longer"
          Edward R. Murrow



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