Bee and Wasp Photo Tips to get Species-grade IDs

Thank you for these handy pages. I used this tool to translate it to English which was simple enough:
Many language choices.

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Thanks @bobmcd.

The pages are only meant as suggestion for taking photo’s for identifying solitaire & bumble bees!

I have the IMPRESSION that the IDENTIFICATION KEYS in the YouTube videos and are ONLY APPLICABLE for NOMADA and ANDRENA in EUROPE (e.g. BELGIUM, GERMANY, NETHERLANDS), but I’m not shure about the further scope of identification key applicability!

Hello @bouteloua, thanks for your welcome. I have some doubts about moving my original topic underneath this topic, because of former further scope of identification key applicability?


Finally!!! My net came yesterday and I got two bee things!

There is a skill development curve to getting the bee from the net to the jar, but the tip for turning the net 180 degrees was most useful.

It took this guy over 15 minutes in the freezer to still; but after I was done with my pics, he woke up and flew off in about 10 minutes or less.

I put this one in the freezer for 10 minutes. Sadly, to my surprise, he did not fully wake up. I think I need to gauge freezer time in shorter increments going forward.


Sounds great. Some more things that helped me:

If catch a bee in air, turn net (bee in part hanging off), and place net hoop flat on ground. Move an open jar underneath net, then move net to guide bee into jar and re-lid (all without having net openings). I use a full length net pole (some are adjustable) in 2 hands, and hold the back of the net mesh under my upper hand. Stand or slowly walk nearly immobile in a stance ready to swing in a quick or short “snap” motion.

If a bee is on a plant or the ground, place net directly over it, avoiding leaving openings beneath net (if on ground, hoop is flat to ground). Holding net hoop still with one hand, pull outer net mesh up from its top with other hand. It will fly or crawl upward, then the net can be turned sideways to trap it in the part hanging off.

Collecting bees on plants can sometimes shake the plant or make parts fall off. I sometimes catch by closing an open jar and lid in each hand over a flower. In gardens or other areas where plant damage is to be avoided, people have used things like cylinders to collect.

I haven’t used ice/freezer methods much yet. The method of putting a small amount of sugar water in a jar did work to calm down a bee, for Colletes inaequalis. Some might also try using a regular jar and waiting to see if the bee stops moving after a long time (I haven’t tried this).


Add @frontierkodiak @bobmcd

I meant to add, my tips for using Discover Life (ID key or guide):

If family/genus is unknown, use species guide or genus guide. If or once genus is known: search it here, or click it’s family here, then click genus. Click male or female to open ID guide. Species options are on left, ID questions in center.

Answer easiest questions (month, state, size, M/F), and “recommended answer”-questions 1st. Click “search” and “simplify” after each. No withdraw answer option, but can re-submit (bottom of page).

Right click and duplicate the browser tab (entire key) to experiment with questions. Most question answers reduce # of spp. options. Possibly skip ones that don’t (affected by # spp. at given time).

Skip or answer difficult questions conservatively (e.g. give multiple values for body length). Or make educated guesses (note: lowers confidence, proceed 1 question at a time).

Right click species to view separate pages with photos (ID, range, & seasonality info may differ slightly from ID page). And review add’l sources. Finding for example that a species hasn’t been recorded in the locality, allows you to refine spp. options by removing spp. manually (uncheck boxes next to spp. → “simplify” and “search”).

At the end, given possible user errors and the ID guide being less than 100% perfect, it’s ideal to get additional-user ID verification.

On iNat, ideally show as much as possible of traits used in the ID process, in photos. Add’l or repeated info. can be written too (tedious, but the only way some identifiers will verify difficult species-level IDs). For example, mention you used a key, the key traits, M/F, body length, etc., and in photos show M/F traits, wing venation, and body size (showing a ruler in the photo).

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