Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wash & Dry

We've been going through all of the bees everyone sent us to get them ready for identification. Here are some of the steps.

The bees are in a jar with soapy water on a stir plate. There is a magnetic stir bar in the bottom that continuously stirs the bees to wash them.

Look at those bees go!

After washing and rinsing, the bees are blow-dried in this apparatus engineered by Cliff to fluff up their little bee hairs for easier identification.

These insects are all from one collection at one site. The ones on the left are flies (this sample had a huge number of bee-mimic flies) and the ones on the right are bees.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Hi everyone! Thanks again for all of your help this summer. We've begun the sorting process, and it's taking a long time to sort the bees from flies, then pin and label the bees. We'll try to post some pictures of the process as we go. Here's the first installment!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Final Collection -- Sun, Oct 18 or Mon, Oct 19

The weather's holding strong for tomorrow (Sunday) and Monday, with both days expected to be warm and sunny. Please perform Collection #4 -- our last! -- whichever of these days works best for you.

Again, thanks for your continued participation through our inaugural collection season. We will be sure to let everyone know our findings when the identification and analyses are complete. If all goes well, we should have preliminary results by year's end.

Happy collecting!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Collection #4 coming soon!

I know it feels like winter, but - believe it or not - we're planning collection #4! It looks like there's going to be a window of sunny warmth this Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday so we hope you'll be willing to collect bees one last time. We'll send out an email as Sunday approaches, so please keep your eyes on your inboxes for updates!

Also, thank you all for your participation in our pre-CAPS survey. Don't forget that we're going to be asking you to complete a post-CAPS survey after collection #4. We'll out send instructions and a link in a few days. We hope you'll be willing to participate once again.

In the meantime, send in those bees!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Community Garden Pictures

A huge thank you to Helena P. for sending these great pictures from several of our community garden collection sites. As you probably know, we have about 50 households collecting bees for CAPS this summer. What you may not know is that we're also lucky enough to be collecting bees at ten community gardens throughout Chicago including South Shore Cultural Center, Ginkgo Organic Gardens, and North Park Village.

Enjoy Helena's beautiful pictures!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Send in those bees!

Thanks to all of you who participated in collection three! If you haven't done so already, please be sure to send in your bees (and flies and gnats) and data cards as soon as you can.

We're hoping to have all of our bees pinned and semi-sorted by Thanksigiving or so in order to send them off to our bee identification specialist. That means that we should have some good photos and good data soon!

Before we wrap things up for the summer, though - and I know it doesn't feel much like summer this week! - we're planning to have a collection four in October if the weather cooperates. We're also going to ask you to complete a post-CAPS survey in the coming weeks. So keep your eyes on your inboxes for more information. In the meantime, send in those bees!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Collection Three TOMORROW (Friday 9/18) and Saturday 9/19

Hello CAPS volunteers!

It looks like the weather for tomorrow (Friday, September 18th) and Saturday (September 19th) are looking good for bees so please commence collection 3! You can perform the collection on whichever day is more convenient for you - but just collect on one day (not both).

Sunday (September 20th) is also a possibility, but it looks like there's a chance of rain, so please try for either Friday or Saturday.

Once again, you should place the bowls out prior to 8am and pick them up after 8pm (though it's okay to set them out the night before and pick them up the morning after, if need be). Once those bees are collected, please get them in to us so we can continue the process of sorting and identifying the bees.

Please also remember to fully complete the data card for collection three and return that with your specimens.

Thanks again to everyone for participating. Happy collecting!

- The [caps] Crew

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Collection #3

Hi folks - Collection #3 is tentatively scheduled for some time next week. We need to keep our eyes on the weather in order to set the several day window for collection. Please keep your eyes on your inboxes and on this blog for further updates.

Thank you, as always, for your continued support!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Let the sorting begin!

The CAPS crew is meeting in our lab right now to begin sorting your bees. If you haven't sent them in yet, please do! We'll update you on our findings as soon as we have them.

Thanks, people!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Our first guest blogger!

CAPS volunteer Norma M. was kind enough to write up her experiences with the collection for our blog. Thanks, Norma! Enjoy Norma's story and please be sure to send in your own thoughts and photos.


From Norma:

I hadn't been in Chicago for Collection #1, so Collection #2 was my first time. I was worried because I would have to set the cups out in the side courtyard of a condo building, very shady, with lots of dogs....lots of possibilities for a complete flop. But have no fear! Not only did I find some bees in the cups the next morning, but the really cool thing was that my neighbors, both in my building and the building next to us on the other side, were so intrigued. People asked me about the multicolored cups, (thought it was an art project!), tried to keep their dogs away...so it was a positive community experience as well as a CAPS contribution. I'm hoping we have as good luck for the next collection.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

How'd It Go???

How did collection #2 go?

We had great weather at the end of last week - perfect for collecting bees! We hope you had some success with the collection this time around - especially after hearing from several of you that you were disappointed not to nab any bees during collection #1.

Please consider sending us some photos of your collection - we'd love to post them to the blog. Also, if there are some stories and anecdotes you'd like to share, send those, too! After all, this project is about sharing information as widely as possible. While we promise to do our part to share the research results with you, we hope you'll be willing to share with each other. If you don't have the time to send in a story or photo, consider adding a comment to the blog. Either way, let's hear from you!

To get the ball rolling, I heard from my parents in Rogers Park that they collected their first bees on Friday! Both bees were attracted to the blue cups. Here's a picture of Rogers Park bee #1:

We hope you'll send us some more!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Collection #2 > Th. 8/13 or Fr. 8/14

Hello all --

The weather for both tomorrow (August 13th) and Friday (August 14th)
is looking really great for bee collecting, so the second collection
will officially begin tomorrow. Feel free to perform the collection
on whichever of these days is most convenient. If either of these
days absolutely does not work for you, please collect on the next
sunny day (sunshine is also in the forecast for Saturday).

Remember that the bee bowls should be set out before 8am and collected
after 8pm on your chosen collection day, and that a data card should
be filled out for EACH collection (even though you filled out a card
for collection #1, please do so again for collection #2).

If any questions or concerns arise during this collection, do not
hesitate to contact us by e-mail
(chicagoareapollinatorstudy@gmail.com) or telephone (Cliff:
612.840.6333; Emi: 773.680.1205).

Thanks again to everyone for participating. Happy collecting!

- The [caps] Crew

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Thank You Ginkgo Gardens and News About Collection #2!

Ginkgo Gardens, one of the participants in CAPS, was kind enough to post some pictures of CAPS' own Cliff Shierk setting up a bee bowl grid on their grounds. Thanks G.G.! You can check out the post here.

In the meantime, we hope you're gearing up for collection number two. It looks right now like that collection will take place late next week, either Thursday August 13th or Friday August 14th. We'll be sure to keep you posted here on the blog, as well as through our google group. If you have any problems or questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

We can't wait for collection number two!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Thank you! And looking ahead...

Thanks to all of our great volunteers who participated in our first collection. Despite the weather changes, it sounds like we had a successful collection. We hope you had some fun - we can't wait to see your specimens! Send those in when you can. As soon as we get some more information about the species we collected, we'll be sure to post those here. Also, please feel free to send in any pictures you took so we can put them up on the blog. We're sure other folks would like to see them!

Here are some thoughts post-collection:

1) RAIN POLICY: From here forward, it is best to abort the sampling mission in the event of rain, if possible. If the bowls have already been set out and the rain comes later in the day, collect whatever is in the bowls and end the sampling. If you wake up to rain on the specified collection day, don't even bother to set the bowls out -- just wait until the next sunny day. We will, of course, try to let everyone know if we're going to cancel the collection due to rain, but we're spread across a fairly wide area and it's entirely possible that it may rain buckets on the south side and not rain a drop on the north side.

2) COLLECTION DAY: We were overly optimistic that we could (and should) have everyone do the collecting on the same day, as is evident in the protocol. If you're unable to perform the sampling on the day that we designate as the "official" collection day, it's perfectly acceptable to do it on the next sunny day, or the NEXT next sunny day. If you do need to stretch a collection day, please be sure to note that on your data card.

3) BEES vs. FLIES: Not all bees are large and colorful like the trademark bumblebees we commonly think of. As such, don't be discouraged if you don't find one of these big, fuzzy creatures in any of your bowls. It's important that you strain and send in ALL the insects that you find in your bowls, even if they don't look like bees. You would be surprised how many bees actually look like flies, and vice versa.

4) HELP LINE: We have not provided a phone number in the event that questions arise that require time sensitive answers, such as the onset of the rain yesterday. We will provide a number (or two) in the future so you can reach us directly, if necessary.

Thanks for participating! Please send in your pictures and stories

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

First Collection: TOMORROW, Thursday, July 16th!

Tomorrow's weather is looking fantastic for bee collecting, so we're
going to make tomorrow, Thursday, July 16th our official first
collection day.

The protocol in your collection kit explains that your bee bowls
should be set out from 8am to 8pm on the collection date -- tomorrow,
Thursday, July 16th. The key thing to remember is that we're hoping
to get everyone collecting for one DAYLIGHT CYCLE on the same day.
This means that everyone should set the bowls out before 8am (but
after the previous day's sunset) and pick them up after 8pm (but
before the next day's sunrise).

Bottom line: you can set out the bee bowls anytime between sunset
Wednesday (July 15th) and 8am Thursday (July 16th). Then, pick up the
bowls anytime between 8pm Thursday (July 16th) and sunrise Friday
(July 17th).

As we mentioned yesterday, if you are absolutely unable to perform the
collection tomorrow (July 16th), please try to do it on the next SUNNY
day (bees are not very active on cloudy, rainy days). The weather is
looking good for both Friday and Saturday, so these would be the best
alternative days if tomorrow absolutely does not work. But, if
possible, please perform the collection tomorrow.

Thanks in advance for your hard work tomorrow! We look forward to
receiving our first round of samples.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

1st Collection Date > Th. 7/16 or Fr. 7/17

The bee kits were mailed via USPS Priority Mail on Saturday and should be arriving shortly (if they haven't already). If you have not received the kit by tomorrow, please send an e-mail to chicagoareapollinatorstudy@gmail.com to let us know.

The conditions for bee sampling are looking fantastic for the end of this week (sunny and warm!), so we're hoping to have our first collection date this Thursday (7/16) or Friday (7/17). It would be ideal to have everyone perform the collection on the same day, though we do realize that varying weather conditions and other circumstances may make this difficult. If you are unable to do the collection on the scheduled day (say, Thursday), please try to do it on the next sunny day (say, Friday or Saturday). I realize that this is fairly short notice, so please let us know if the end of this week will absolutely not work. We will send out another e-mail to confirm which day will work best as soon as we can.

Again, thanks to all of you for agreeing to participate in this study -- we really appreciate it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

testing bee bowls and Bioblitz 2009!

A few weeks ago, we were lucky enough to be paid a visit by bee expert Sam Droege of the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The bee collection kits that you'll receive in the mail in a few weeks are largely the result of Sam's expertise. We got a chance to walk around UIC's campus together, setting out bee bowls, and even got to meet Sam at the Indiana Dunes for National Geographic's Bioblitz 2009. Here are a few pictures from his visit.

bee bowls filled with flies and sweat bees.

[caps] researchers from UIC test Sam's bee dryer.

the fruits of our labor: bee specimens after washing and drying.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009