Bee and wasp updates, notes, or goals for Spring 2022

iNat bee and wasp observers and identifiers have continued to make significant progress reviewing and IDing the large number of observations and gradually resolving the species checklists and how to ID taxa for each country globally. This Spring and Summer will be another opportunity to document additional species diversity. In particular the upcoming City Nature Challenge 2022 at the end of April will hopefully result in many new global observations. In addition, the ongoing bee or wasp projects in multiple countries are also helping organize and motivate observers and identifiers. I recently added a project for first iNat bee and wasp species records, as part of my interest in helping identifiers determine the identify of unidentified species.

This topic is for any discussions relating to current bee and wasp updates or progress notes, challenges, goals, etc.

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I’m visiting area south from Vladivostok in the middle of the May, which has little to none observations of Aculeata, so if anyone have particular species/groups that need observations and that I can look for it’d be nice to know.

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In that case I think any bees or wasps included would be interesting and useful, although if any additional researchers are working on specific groups there they can mention which. I know in neighboring Ukraine one researcher seems to be focusing on Eumeninae wasps, which are also one of my interests. As for bee checklists, I just added a Russia working checklist here, although it’s for the entire country, and there may also be additional useful checklists in literature for specific cities or regions.

If you mean fateryga he’s a Russian scientist that is interested in Crimea/Caucasus region.
I know timviclev is working on bees of Central Russia, he has some works on Research Gate with species lists, so if you’re planning to add regional lists, those can be of help. To use a simpler (larger) regions you can use the system like here https://ccw.naturalis.nl/manual.php?page=3.3.

That’s good to know. Yes I meant the first identifier you mentioned and hadn’t been aware of the second one before. I’ve started to ID more in Europe recently although hadn’t much in the past.

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It’s good to have you in Europe!

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Thanks for the links, I hadn’t heard of some of those projects. Even in the USA there are a surprising number of unrecorded bees in iNat.

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Yeah. Here are species checklists for most world countries compiled on Discover Life (only some checklists have been added to iNat, so this is a fuller listing). It can seem daunting how many countries have over a thousand species each. Which is more speciose than certain wasp groups, although some wasp families are very speciose too. One thing that makes such a high number of bee species more workable is that there are many cryptic groups (maybe more than in wasps?), which means many taxa can only typically get IDed at best to genus, subgenus, or species complex. Compared to in IDing wasps, where the community frequently uncovers new species level IDs (including today). The same is also happening in bees, although less often. Another related factor is that much of our understanding of how to ID these species relies on the extent of prior insect survey collections in the past, where many locations and taxa groups (especially some wasps) were somewhat undersampled. Compared to now, where at least the flower-visiting species of bees and wasps are frequent and popular iNat observation subjects.

Thanks, everyone’s doing a great job and I’ve come across a lot of IDs by you too.

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Sorry, I just got a giggle out of that phrasing, since Vladivostok is 7 (!) time zones away from Ukraine. Russia is a big, big country. Though amazingly enough, some species stretch the full length, which I guess the is the magic of why “Palearctic” works as a bin. I can think of at least 2-3 robber flies that range all the way from Finland or Europe to the Far East.

Happy to see enthusiasm for observing and identifying various overlooked insects!

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Haha, well I just meant the countries themselves neighbor each other in part.

By the way, have you or other fly identifiers looked into adding fly checklists to iNat in a similar way that we’ve tried for bees and wasps?

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There are hundreds of Lasioglossum species that require microscopes to determine, so that’s a big obstacle to a photo driven site like this. 1,047 out of roughly 4,000 is impressive.

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I just want to know what the large, fast bees I keep seeing in my yard are. American Bumblebee sized or something near it, but they look black or blue with no signs of yellow. They don’t hold still for me to get a good look, but they’re clearly bees. This year, I want to get a decent photo of one.

Oh, and I’m going to Cozumel at the end of April. Maybe I can find something useful there. I see there are some cool ones already listed. Any tips on finding more?

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Possibly Xylocopa Carpenter bees (if they’re as big or bigger than bumble bees), or Osmia or Colletes if not? I see you’re in Texas.

That will be a good chance. Identifiers discussed some tips in these earlier topics:

Find Spring, specialist, or rare bees
Learn to identify bees and wasps using morphology
Bee and wasp photo tips to get Research Grade IDs (this one addresses how they often won’t land or sit still)

Do you have tips for photographing bees and such? Often, they move so fast I am challenged to get a good picture.

One summer, I tried netting a couple of bees and transferring them to a Petri dish. Sometimes, I chilled them with ice packs to slow their movement and get pics from different angles. Usually, they flew off very shortly after warming up. But, I get a bit concerned, as I do not know if there might be a longer term impact on the chilled insects that I do not see.

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I and others previously discussed some tips in the last of my links in the comment above yours. One main idea is to photograph (if not capturing) when bees have landed on flowers (including waiting nearby flowers with camera ready before they land), since they’re distracted from being scared away, although some are still hard to photograph because they may fly away from flowers very fast (e.g. Agapostemon sweat bees). I haven’t used live enclosure/catch-and-release methods much, but did feed a Colletes cellophane bee sugar water, which caused it to slow down, walk on my hand, and stop being scared.

I also saved a Ceratina small carpenter bee from dying in a water bucket and it walked on my hand and wasn’t scared. Observers also discuss those enclosure methods in more detail in the third link above. I know what you mean though. Just the other day I saw my first bee of the Spring (Colletes inaequalis) and at first couldn’t even see it sitting still, and had some trouble photographing, but did end up getting a clear photo allowing species ID.

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Sometimes early in the morning I am fortunate enough to find bees sleeping on flowers.

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Xylocopa looks right! They’re that size and the same blue-black color. Thank you, a friend and I were wondering what those were. We saw two of them flying around, one of them trying to stay hovering about six inches above the other- courtship, maybe?

Thanks for the links. I’m excited to see all the cool critters they have on Cozumel, and I’ll do my best to get some useful photos to upload.

Thanks, sounds great. And yes, it was probably mating behavior by Xylocopa. A list of Texas species is here (to see click the Species tab if not already selected): https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=18&subview=table&taxon_id=51111&view=species

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Just adding, I created a project today for first iNat bee and wasp species records. If anyone would like to suggest observations to add, add on their own, or consider joining. The main emphasis is on uncommon and recently identified species (even if observation date is in the past), and a project goal is to motivate identifiers to ID more unidentified species and indicate which are uncommon or “new.”

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