Friday, June 22, 2012

Bumble Bees and Carpenter Bees!

Again we are getting lots of different Bumble Bees up here! It is great to see so much diversity. However many people get Bumble Bees and Carpenter Bees confused. Bumble Bees have hair on their abdomen and Carpenter Bees do not, their abdomens are shiny like the individuals below. Bumble Bee's have hair on their abdomen.

Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa (Notoxylocopa) tabaniformis orpifex)

California Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa californica)

We love seeing the Bumble Bees up here and the populations seem to be doing well. Even thought several studies have said that populations have decline, from a  fungal pathogen, Nosema bombi.
Other studies have also proven that the abundance of the European honey bee has also caused a decline in the populations because of competition. European Honey Bee's collect the nectar causing a scarcity of nectar in areas for the Bumble Bee. Bumble Bee's respond by sending more foragers to get nectar instead of pollen. This in return leads to fewer offspring of the Bumble Bee. 

There are things that can be done. The Xerces Society is helping land managers create strategies for increasing pollinator numbers. Land managers need these pollinators for wild flowers, blueberries, tomatoes and many other crops. There are also local groups trying to create habitat for bees like Texas Bee Watchers.  You can make your yard more bee friendly as well. Below are some of the Bumble Bee's we have seen along the way.

Nevada Bumble Bee (Bombus nevadensis)
                                        Indiscriminate Cuckoo Bumble Bee (Bombus insularis)

                                        California Bumble Bee (Bombus californicus)

We also got one of these guys in flight!

Kendra and John

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About Me

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John is Curator of Entomology at the University of Texas at Austin. Kendra is a Professor at St. Edwards University in Austin. John has focused on dragonflies and damselflies in his career. He has two books Dragonflies and Damselflies of Texas and the South-central United States and The Damselflies of Texas. He is currently working on the Dragonflies of Texas. John and Kendra are also currently both working on revising the Peterson Field Guide to Insects of North America. We have had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout Latin America, Africa and other parts of the world where we enjoy taking photos of pretty much anything that will allow us to capture its image. We are lucky enough to be able to teach students about the amazing biodiversity we see and to travel and photograph together.