Monday, May 2, 2011

A Short Mid-Season Post

In my last post, I was patiently waiting for field season to start. And then, all of a sudden, it did -- a few warm days and blueberry bloom was off and running.

Today was an easier day -- it would have been our seventh day of data collection (we need fourteen this year), but the morning was too cool and overcast to be a "good bee day", so the crew and I came back to the lab for a much-needed day of bee pinning and downtime.

I've also had a chance to go through some of my photos, and I even took a few more today of the various critters that visit the honeysuckle bush at the field station. One of the nicest things about staying here is looking out the window while I'm cooking or washing dishes and watching bumblebees visiting flowers. They get absolutely covered in pollen. It's fantastic.

I'm not going to write a whole lot tonight (more data collection tomorrow, so I need to get to sleep soon!) but here are a few photos of what I've been seeing out in the field. The white bell-shaped flowers are blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum, highbush blueberry). Enjoy!

Bumblebee (Bombus) species mid-flight.

This is my best Habropoda laboriosa photo to date, you can actually see her face in this one, yay! Also take a look at all the pollen on her legs! I wish her hundreds of fat children.

Fun fact: "Habs" are actually as soft as they look!

One of the best parts of my field work (and also one of the most frustrating) is feeding bees by hand. Here you can see my triumphant feeding of a Colletes spp. female, who has just visited one of the open flowers near the top of the cluster. At the bottom you can just see my hand holding the water tube; this flower was eventually taken back to the lab and is now a data point in training!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Where I've Been

Before I start writing up what I'm doing right now, here's a little recap of the last 18 months or so, to put my absence in perspective. Not the most exciting post, but it will put my forthcoming field season posts in perspective!

From October 2009 through March 2010, I wrote my preliminary proposal for my thesis project. Most people take their qualifying exam (aka "Quals") first, but I did things backwards. I'm wacky like that.

As part of my preliminary proposal, I spend a lot of time using GIS to select sites for my study. Since I'm comparing effects of landscape at different scales, site selection is a huge aspect of my project. In the end, I came up with 16 sites and two control sites, all blueberry fields in southern New Jersey. This took most of March.

On April 1st, I started training a field crew of five people, including myself. It was a good thing we started early, because last year was one of the earliest blooms on record for blueberry in this region. Our first day of data collection was April 15, which was already a few days into bloom; we were done with data collection on May 5. Short field season!

From May 6 or so right up to last month, I have been analyzing my data. Really. It's still ongoing, but I had to take a break from analyzing the data to collect more data, starting... probably next week. More on that to follow.

But, data analysis isn't all I do! (Although, it's most of what I do.) I also spent a few months studying for my quals (and passed, thank Darwin that's over!), gave a 10-minute talk at the Entomological Society of America meeting in San Diego last December, started writing a paper with my advisor, and have learned a bit of programming in R. I also got a great teaching gig that lets me teach only in the Fall semester, so I can focus on my field season in the spring. I've also learned to bake foccacia. Overall, it's been a busy 18 months!

I'll write more about the current field season soon, but in the meantime, here are some early-season critter photos. Enjoy!

Gorgeous green beetle.

Habropoda laboriosa male feeding on leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata) flowers. Leatherleaf is one of the earliest blooms in this area, and hungry early-emerging spring bees were all over it!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

And we're back!

Hi everyone! After a lengthy hiatus, i am going to give this blogging thing another whirl. I have a Blogger app on my phone, we will see how it goes.

This photo is one of my first bee photos of the season. It's a female bee sitting in her nest, basking in the sun. I forgot my camera in the car while we did netting practice, so this may not be the best photo, but I will post more field season pics soon!
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