A tiny bit of fieldwork

I have spent the vast majority of the summer writing and editing my thesis, but managed to take a couple of days off to open some eastern carpenter bee nests.  Inside these nests are both adult (mostly) reproductive females, and developing offspring. My hope is to assign maternity to developing bees in each nest to figure out definitively who is laying eggs (and how many each female gets to lay).

These nests actually came to me by way of my son’s daycare, who decided one morning that they were going to remove an arbour full of carpenter bee nests. Twenty minutes and two additional people later we had hit the carpenter bee jackpot!


Sealing nest entrances before we cut down the boards. Pro tip: if you get your labmate to hold the wheelbarrow you are less likely to fall! Photo credit: Andrea Cardama


The real fun came a few weeks later when we opened up nests to see who was inside. Getting to see inside eastern carpenter bee nests is always a treat. Because they almost always nest in milled lumber, people are generally reluctant to let me destroy their buildings to get a look inside nests. Opportunities like this one come along rarely and are very exciting. (For me that is. All of the employees at the daycare now think I am very odd!) At this point in the year (mid-July), nests contain adults as well as developing offspring. Opening nests without letting adults escape were tricky, but fun!


Carefully opening nests while trying not to let females escape. Photo credit: Lyndon Duff



Teamwork keeps bees from escaping! Photo credit: Lyndon Duff



Nests avoiding each other. Photo credit: Lyndon Duff



Developing pupae (left three brood cells) and left over pollen balls from eggs that didn’t survive. Photo credit: Lyndon Duff


Even though it was 40 degrees Celcius and we all ended up covered in sawdust it was a pretty great couple of days. I missed interacting with live bees!  Thanks to Andrea Cardama, David Awde and Lyndon Duff for helping wrangle bees with me.


One thought on “A tiny bit of fieldwork

  1. Awesome job, i enjoyed your recount of the event it was like i was there myself and the photos are great. I am fascinated by insects myself, i made mention of bees in my final year project in the university, your article has given me something to think of…..
    I am applying for M. Sc at brock for may 2017 and im yet to decide on which insect i want to research on (they are pretty cool) but your article is swaying me towards bees.
    Great job.


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