Native bees interact closely with their host plants and therefore, can be good indicators of habitat diversity and health. Due to the physical aspects of tamarisk removal, reintroduction of native vegetation (through seeding or natural recolonization) is a process that can take years to stabilize. The soil has been greatly disturbed and the recruitment of reproductively mature plants and therefore, the creation of a healthy seed bank takes time. Many types of adult insects, such as bees, wasps, flies, and beetles, use nectar as a source of energy. However bees dont just drink nectar, they also use the pollen as a source of nutrition on which to rear their offspring. Tamarisk is an incredibly good source of nectar, but is a lousy source of pollen. Since it is wind pollinated, the pollen grains are small and not very nutritious. Insect pollinated plants on the other hand provide both nectar and nutritious pollen. Many of these plants also have very tight relationships with their respective bees, in which case one species of bee may only pollinate a single genus of plant. Bees can be used to monitor the recovery of areas where tamarisk has been removed. The diversity of bees can vary greatly temporally and spatially. Bee traps are a low maintenance and low time commitment way of monitoring bees in xeric systems.
Buchmann funnel traps were used to collect the bees. These traps consist of a 1 at paint can with an automotive funnel that has been sawed off to make the opening wider and then spray painted flourescent blue or flourest yellow. Two inches of propylene glycol was used in each trap to preserve the specimens.
The traps were set haphazardly within the center of each habitat type at least 500m from the edge of the habitat type and then as far apart from each other within the habitat type. There were three traps of each color (yellow and blue) at each habitat type.
Collecting Bee Traps
Walk to each trap with a notebook and pencil, a hammer, a strainer, forceps, and a large plastic cup. In the notebook, record the date and any problems that occur. At each trap, place the strainer over the plastic cup and pour the contents of the trap through the strainer, catching the specimens. If some specimens remain in the trap, pour the antifreeze back in the trap and repeat the process. A good swirl usually helps get everything out. Pour the clean antifreeze back in the trap can (paint can) and use the hammer to seal the lid. Place the trap can and the funnel back in the chicken wire cage. Put the specimens from the strainer into a vial filled with 70% EtOH and a label with the dates of collection and the trap number.Opening the traps
Walk to each trap and open the paint can. Make sure there is at least one inch of antifreeze in the bottom of the trap. Place the funnel in the trap and close the chicken wire. If it has rained and the antifreeze has been watered down, you must empty the old antifreeze into the container and label it as used. Put an inch of fresh antifreeze in the can. Watered down antifreeze will rot along with the specimens. You will notice an especially sweet smell if this is happening. If the color of the funnel is faded, refresh the paint and put in the paint can. It should dry quickly.Processing the samples
In the lab, all insects from each vial are pinned and labelled (excluding soft bodied insects, ants and small headed flies). Bees are identified to species and all others to order, family or genus. Specimens are to be accessioned into the Museum of Southwestern Biology except for a small reference collection to be given to Bosque del Apache's Visitor Center for public education.
Data has not yet been entered.
Data has not yet been processed.
Additional Information on the Data Collection Period
Traps are run two weeks out of every month from March through October. This is expected to be a three year study with the potential to repeat the study in 2018-2020.
Additional Study Area Information
Study Area Name: Bosque del Apache NWR.
Study Area Location: This 57,191 acre refuge straddles the Rio Grande Valley in Socorro County, New Mexico.