Dr. Elaine Evans and Michelle Boone (Bee Lab)

Introduction:

It’s Bee Week! This week’s featured scientists are Michelle Boone and Elaine Evans in the Cariveau Lab in the Department of Entomology. Michelle is a current PhD student studying rusty-patched bumble bee distributions throughout the 7-metro counties of Minnesota. Rusty-patched bumble bees are federally endangered and are the Minnesota State Bee! Dr. Elaine Evans is an extension educator and bee researcher who studies bee conservation and coordinates a variety of outreach programs.

Research:

Michelle and Elaine study the federally endangered rusty-patched bumble bee. They gather distribution data on the bee. This summer, two rusty-patched bumble bee nests were reported on private residences—one in Minneapolis and one in Red Wing. Michelle and Elaine collected avariety of samples to help further research on this species that can help with its recovery. They both work under a special permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for research on endangered species.

Fun Facts:

Did you know…

·       Bees don’t just come in black and yellow; they come in all colors! They come in red, green, blue, orange, yellow, brown, grey, and white colors

·       Bees have 2 compound and 3 simple eyes

·       Beehive colonies can grow to 60,000 in the summer

·       Most bees don’t form social colonies with workers and queens

·       Over 80% of bees nest in the ground

Activities:

What kinds of bumble bees live in your neighborhood? Explore your neighborhood and try to find five different species of bumble bees! To identify a bumble bee species, you will mostly need to look at the abdomen, but for some species the thorax or face can help too! If you can, take a photograph of each species of bumble bee you find and upload them to https://www.bumblebeewatch.org/. Don’t worry if you can’t take a picture. Just get out there and look! Try searching for bees on flowers. Below are some training tools to help you get started.

This is a great video to get started! Please note that he is talking about UK bumblebees, which are different than the species we have in MN. However, it’s a useful video to get started. In MN, our bees don’t really have variable “tail” colors, so I suggest instead focusing on the “banding”. https://youtu.be/A_6ixf3Ui8U 

Here’s a guide to MN bumblebees. It’s a bit longer but contains useful information on local species: https://apps.extension.umn.edu/environment/citizen-science/bee-atlas/bumble-bees/docs/bumblebee_species_slides.pdf

Here’s an interactive bumble bee ID training tool: https://umn.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0VRYJMihcrZaOHj 

Here is a handy bumble bee ID guide, created by featured scientist Dr. Elaine Evans! https://www.beelab.umn.edu/sites/beelab.umn.edu/files/bumblebeesofmnidguide.pdf

Bee lab trivia game: 

https://www.beelab.umn.edu/pollinator-education-toolkits

Resources:

Bee Lab website: https://www.beelab.umn.edu/cariveau-native-bee-lab.

Bee Lab Q&A: https://z.umn.edu/BeeLabQ_A