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Bee/Plant Associations

The USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Program designs and develops large and small scale surveys for native bees. As part of that program we also develop identification tools and keys for native bee species. One aspect of creating those tools is creating accurate and detailed pictures of native bees and the plants and insects they interact with.

The Native Bee Laboratory has moved and is now located at the old USGS endangered species propagation site (as of 2018).  That site is isolated, fenced, and protected by a gate with a keypad. There is no public access.  Within that site the Bee Lab building is positioned within a 30-acre compound surrounded by an electrified 8’ fence.  Within those 30 acres there is a 5-acre gridded woodlot and approximately 100 former outdoor sandhill and whooping crane outdoor pens with open tops and 8’ fencing. 

We have begun the work of reducing the presence of invasive plants throughout the site to release a relatively rich existing native plant fauna (e.g., red osier, ironweed, whorled loosestrife, green-fringed orchid, joe pye weed, winged sumac, germander, etc.); converting some of the pens to single plant study sites for pollination visitation; creating similar plots inside the woodlot; integrating comparisons of mulched, herbicided, rototilled approaches to native plant establishment; with photostation documentation.  Some of these plots will also be established outside of the lab compound where a large deer population exists.

See the multimedia section for a photo tour of the Bee Laboratory and surrounding site.

We welcome collaborators in all of these projects and have already established a link with Dr. Anahi Espindola to look at molecular analysis of pollen loads of specialist bees.  We happy to let researchers and students use some of these pens and facilities for their own projects or to take over aspects of what we have begun.  We are excellent collaborators, our primarily interest is in the expansion of conservation and understanding of native bees by the larger ecological community and our positions and salary are not measured in terms of authorship but rather in terms of overall impact. 

In addition to our field studies, we help Jarrod Fowler’s work to extract from the literature and field workers the known relationships between individual bee species and their plants, we are happy to continue correcting and augmenting this information to include the Midwestern and Western states and provinces.