By: Lauren Leffer
I had heard about the “Bee Lab” from a friend and alumna who’d been involved with the Pollinaterps project, and she semi-recruited me to fill her spot. I’d been looking to get some experience in a more conservation-focused lab than the one I was currently in, and bees seemed like a great place to start. When I first joined the lab, I didn’t know quite what to expect, but what I got was an enthusiastic and welcoming group of colleagues, weekly meditation in the form of in-lab tasks (hot gluing can be a wonderful stress reliever), exciting and idea-driven group meetings, the opportunity to help further develop the existing Pollinaterps education initiatives, and a totally awesome Maryland Day experience.
The flower seed mix used should be specific to the area in which you plan on planting. Make sure you are only using species that are native or beneficial to your local environment! Ideally your flowers would also be ones favored by native bees, as the idea is to provide more suitable habitat for our buzzing buddies. The flower mixture we used was illustrated on this lovely poster:
Once you’ve made your pollinator pods, you can start learning about all the bees you’ll be helping with your new garden. To get you on the right track, here’s a sampling of questions to test your knowledge about our native bees (answers can be found after the photo below):
1. What is one of a bees most useful building materials? Hint: They use it like glue and you have it too!
2. How far can a bumble bee fly to forage?
3. Where do native miner bees build their nests?
4. Halictidae, often called sweat bees, are some of the most colorful bees in MD, what color are most of them?
5. Name one reason for the decline of our native bee populations.
1. Their Saliva 2. Up to 8 miles 3. Underground 4. Metallic green/blue 5. Loss of native plants as food sources, pesticide use, habitat loss, competition from honey bees
All in all it’s been a great semester in the Bee Lab, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.