I-Pollinate Citizen Science Training Webinar

I-Pollinate Citizen Science Training Webinar


Hello everybody. Can you all hear me? Yes. Great thanks everyone for
joining today. My name is Deborah Seiler. I’m your webinar host, with the University of Illinois Extension. We’re very excited for today’s speakers. This is the I pollinate citizen science training webinar. The projects you’re going to be learning about today were really
inspired by the enthusiasm and dedication of our volunteers within
extension and all the things that they do, and I think this is going to be a
great opportunity to connect. [inaudible] Today we’ll have four guest speakers
with us here today. They are the coordinators and the scientists behind the great projects that we’ll be learning about. We’ll have Mike McKelvey’s the
coordinator of engagement technology and new media for the office of mathematics
science and technology education here on campus. Michael works on a number of
public engagement projects at U of I He is the webmaster for BeeSpotter and manages the technical side of that
project. Michael says his primary background as an IT so being able to
learn so much about bees has been a real perk. Dr. Terry Harrison is an alum and a
former researcher in the Department of Entomology here at U of I in Urbana-Champaign and he has also been the scientific coordinator and bee identifier
for BeeSpotter since it was created by Dr. May Berenbaum who is also in the
Department of Entomology in 2007. A fun fact about Terry is he actually
started his insect research when he was just five years old helping out with his
big brother’s insect collection for a biology class. but as a professional researcher Terry’s expertise has been in moths. Dr. Alex Harmon-Threatt is a pollination
ecologist and an assistant professor of entomology. Her lab works to
understand patterns in natural environments to help conserve and
restore pollinator diversity. Specifically her lab focuses on bees and how different factors in the environment like plant diversity, fire, grazing,
habitat fragmentation can affect bee diversity in our local communities. And
last but not least our fourth speaker is Dr. David Zaya… Zaya, a
plant ecologist with the Illinois natural history survey who focuses on
plant communities across Illinois and how they change over time, and David has
used that expertise as a member of the Illinois monarch project where he is
working to understand the best environmental conditions for planting milkweed to give monarch caterpillars their best changes of survival. So today, we’re going to go over the three project options that are part of I-Pollinate. First up, Alex and David are gonna talk about the
two projects can connected to planting your own garden test plots. To
both look for general pollinators and to look for monarch caterpillars and
then Michael and Terry are going to walk us through BeeSpotter. So with that I’m going
to turn it over to Alex and David and if you have questions feel free to put them
in the chat box and we’ll have time at the end and we’ll try and go down the
list and take any other additional questions that you have. People are having trouble hearing, can you just check the volume on your speaker? Just to make
sure that… Some people are having trouble hearing. yeah some people can’t seem to hear
anything. Can everyone… just try to make sure that people can hear me before I start talking. If anyone wants to chime in on the chat box with thumbs up or thumbs down on whether you can hear Alright okay wonderful.
So I’m Dr. Alex Harmon-Threatt I wanted to start by talking a little bit about
the garden projects that are available and then I’ll give it over to
David to talk a little bit about his aspect of that. So first I want to thank
Extension and Deborah in particular for getting this kicked off. They pushed this
in the fall and there’s been a lot of work behind the scenes to try and figure
out what we could do this if we had people who
are interested and so there’s been a lot of work behind the scenes by Deborah
especially and a lot of the other extension folks to get us to this point
so I want to thank them for their attention
getting us here and then I want to thank you guys for being, for looking to
participate in science. There are a lot of benefits of having citizen scientists
involved in research and we you guys make things possible that would
otherwise not be possible for scientists to do. It really helps us increase the
distribution of sampling – Illinois is a huge state, and you know we can’t make it
to end-to-end — David tries every summer to do so in some other projects — but it’s
really challenging and so you guys allow us to sample a lot more area more
quickly and more efficiently that helps us increase the amount of data and
having more data just produces a lot more robust results. You know if it was
dependent on just me and my small team here at the University to get end-to-end, we
just would not be able to cover what you guys are gonna be able to cover for us
and that’s gonna help obviously really help improve the results. It increases
access to certain habitats the first project I’m going to talk about is
really based in people’s yards and that means and that’s an area that we have a
lot of trouble getting access to because we have to ask every single homeowner
like can we come into your yards and so by you guys collecting this data that
gives us access to these habitats and that really actually helps us to better
conserve these organisms I think both David and I had a lot of interest in
giving people information on how to improve conservation efforts and having
access to yards and being able to give people targeted results from their homes
and what can be done at their homes is really going to help us improve these
conservation efforts. So the two projects that are based on these backyard garden, backyard gardens are the pollinator visitation project and the monarch
project. Both of these are based on plots that we’re gonna walk through
how to set that up in a minute here. The pollinator visitation project is a project
that started in my lab based here in the Champaign-Urbana area and we were initially just working in parks, the local parks, and we
this year we’re gonna try, we’re stepping up to a statewide project and
we’re really excited to have you guys as participation and the goal of this
project is really to better understand how ornamental plants can provide
resources and whether or not they’re beneficial for pollinator conservation
and the monarch project is really an assessment of monarch distribution where
they’re laying eggs and the population growth throughout the state. We know that
Illinois has a very little natural habitat left and so getting some
assessments of what’s going on over a wide distribution in people’s yards will
really help us benefit pollinators in general. So I started this – I dreamed up
these pollinator gardens in part because I’m a big-time gardener and when I
started putting in, trying to make my yard pollinator friendly most of the
recommendations are for native plants and I willingly did this and then I’m
very much so got a fine from the city because the plants were too tall, and so
I started looking around at other plants in my yard that also had a lot of
pollinators on them and wondering could we use some of these plants to make
other recommendations but there ultimately is very little data on
ornamental plants and so then as part of this project with Extension, David and I
and my lab tech Katie Barie came up with this design and really we owe a lot of
the baby to Katie because she did a lot of the heavy lifting on this to try and
figure out what are some common… commonly available and commonly
planted ornamental plants that might be good for pollinators or that we just
don’t have very much data on. And then within the design we also included a milkweed species and that obviously is not an ornamental but it is
a plant that we wanted to have, it’s a focal plant in people’s yards. And so the
list here these annual species are all — you don’t have to get all of these, we
wanted to give people options based on your location and
what’s available in your local garden centers and any examples that are given
of varietals that you do not have to get those we just were trying to give you an
example we just would like we would like to have these yellow zinnia and the
yellow miracle and those are examples so you don’t have to try and even look at
the varietal if it looks like a yellow marigold – you will be happy we’ll be
happy to have you planted in your yard and so each of these someone asked
recently if it had to be oval it does not have to be oval we just wanted to
give you a kind of limited amount of space so if you want to put it in a
square orientation that’s fine or rectangular. The goal is just to get [inaudible] yes the six varieties So we wanted to just get these
six different annual varieties that you can put into this arrangement or any
real arrangement as long as you’re grouping them plants that are of the same
type we just would like them to have some kind of a grouping of those of that
type and that’s partly because it’ll make it easier to collect data on them
in the future. If you have them grouped together in some way and you know these
different varieties milkweeds really must be on the edge because if
you’re going to be looking at the milkweed looking for monarch eggs and
larvae on them you want to be able to have good access to them the others can
be a little deeper in because you should be able to see what you need to see
without getting super in close on them. So this is just a design, and we didn’t
talk about this but we have a really — Katie design a really beautiful website
it has all of the information on the garden setup. It should be really
easily available and so anything we go over today is also is on the web. So once you’ve gone through
the garden center figured out what plants are available and you get those
guys in the ground, what we’re asking you to do is then to register and tell us
what is in your garden. Because we gave you multiple options
we actually need to know what was in — which ones who were able to acquire
and to get those in. And what you actually are doing in your yard that
might also affect what pollinators were staying there. Something that we get a
lot of questions about are, “Oh, is it okay if I water?” and like yes you want to
water to keep the plants happy, but if you’re over water in your garden then
that might actually be bad for bees And so things like this we want actually
you to record for us after you register your garden. So we have a series of
questions that we’re asking you with your registration to tell us a little
bit about how you take care of your yard normally, what other plants you have in
it, whether or not you use pesticides or mulch, or other things. We don’t
necessarily want you to change anything just these things are important for
us to understand what patterns we’re seeing. The last thing is, we did ask
whether or not you’d be willing to have a scientist visit. That’s not at all
required and it may or may not happen depending on how far away you are
from us but some of this actually helps us validate our data.
It helps us compare what you’re finding in your yards to what we find, and it
serves as kind of a benchmark to see how similar the data is and this is pretty
standard with citizen science projects because we want to be able to make sure
that the data that we’re getting is robust so that when we make our
recommendations we feel confident. So we’re asking you to, after you have your
bed set up, we’re asking you to collect data at four different times. These are
all the third weeks throughout the summer months here in Illinois, starting
June 17th which is actually national pollinator week so we thought that would
be a great time to kick it off. July, August and then in September. If you are
someone who it really gets into this and you would like to record data more often
please feel free go for it have fun these are just dates that we’re trying
to target because one of the things we
really struggle with as scientists is reducing variability in our data and all
of these unexplained factors and doing it on a similar week and having more
data points collected around the same time really helps us do that.
So during that week and if it has to go a little bit before let’s say you’re
traveling or a little bit after because the weather is bad please don’t stress
out about this We’re totally flexible if you can’t
get it done exactly June 17th through the 23rd we still want your data please
make an effort to collect the data especially once you’ve gone through the
trouble of setting up this bed. During each week of surveying we’re asking you
to fill out a floral survey um that is actually just a survey of your garden.
One of the things that can be really important to note to attracting
pollinators to these ornamental plants that we’re trying to assess is what else
is in your yard if you have a huge big beautiful yard if you have a small yard
but it has a lot of flowers all of these things actually make a big difference so
we’re asking you to fill out a short survey about the kinds of other things
that are in your yard and how attractive they are pollinators. We’re also asking
you then… then you have the option I’m sorry of doing a monarch
survey which David will talk a little bit about that in a moment
or doing these pollinator visitation surveys so I’m going to go straight to
pollinator visitation surveys. So for these pollinator visitation surveys
we’re going to ask you wait sorry for the floral surveys this is the initial
survey of your garden we’re asking you to estimate your neighborhood of floral
abundance so whether or not if you have a really beautiful garden and your
neighbor also has a really beautiful garden that can really influence the
results we’re seeing and of the attraction of the ornamental plants and
so we’re just going to try it we have some simple questions to ask you what
what is your neighborhood look like a lot of neighbors that have really
beautiful gardens or are you the only one in you know it’s surrounded by
cornfields and that is obviously going to have a huge role and how much how
many pollinators we see on some of these plants so we wanted to try and account
for that a little bit um how many flowering plants do you have in your
yard are you someone who plans only roses are you someone who has a lot of
different diversities of things all of these things matter to
pollinators quite a lot. And then lastly we’re trying to really get to a point
where we can assess other plants in people’s yards so what flowers are
attracting pollinators so that’s pretty important and all of this is laid out
again on the website. There’s datasheets and we’re just asking you to record
that once a month. Then once you move on to do in your pollinator vegetation
surveys we’re really interested in whether or not you see bees, butterflies,
flies or other things on your on any of these plants that we’ve asked you to put
in. We want you to pick two plants on the same variety and then we’re asking you
to look at those two plants for only three minutes now this is a really
common method that we we use it as scientists to record how attractive a
plant is it’s just watch it for a very short period of time and see what comes
to visit and then write down how many things you saw visiting that those two
plants and that should really help us get a sense of whether or not a plant is
good or bad for pollinators. And so one of the things that we want you to be
aware of, is that distinguishing pollinators actually can be really difficult. Right?
Bees and flies can look really similar and bees and wasps can look really
similar and flies especially can be super tricky. In the three photos that I’ve put
up here only one of those is a bee and if you’re thinking it’s the yellow and
black one you would be wrong. That is a fly. So it’s this green one at the bottom
with the stripes that is actually the bee. And so a few key things to look at is that both bees and flies come in yellow stripes, blues
greens, and oranges. The easiest way to distinguish them is that bees actually have longer antenna and more distinct body segments
and flies have a really huge eyes compared to their head size. Now bees and wasps also come in the same
color varieties, but for me I always say that wasps look really mean. They have
thin waists, and they tend to have very few hairs on their bodies.
Bees tend to be hairier and oftentimes if you see something kind of if you see
a bee — I wish I had some videos, actually we do have videos on our website that’ll
help you with this — if you see them moving around a flower kind of
collecting pollen those are obviously going to be bees because neither wasps
nor flies collect pollen. Here’s a close-up shot, I mean there are
a lot more identification resources on the website and some short videos and
diagrams as well so these are the very large eyes I was talking about on flies it
takes up basically entirely of their head bees have more obvious body
segmentations and they do have four wings instead of
two but that’s really hard to see on a flower. And then we’re just asking you to
submit your data. There’s an online form to do so but you can also submit it by
mail if that’s the way you would prefer. We have recorded some information of
those that are wanting to submit it by mail. So I’m super excited to have all of
you participate and I thank you so much for listening in today and for
participating in this project. Next up Dr. David Zaya is going to talk about the
monarch portion in the project and — this is Deborah again — we’re going through
three projects today very quickly, so this is a lot of information, but to
answer question, yes we will post this if you want to go back and
review anything and all this information will be available on the project website. Hello everyone this is David Zaya. I’m
going to be talking about milkweeds and monarchs. I’m actually a plant ecologist
but I’ll start off with the butterfly. The monarch butterfly
our state insect an amazing creature that has a lot of cool things about it
including looks but it’s been declining over the last 20 years. The
monarchs in eastern North America migrate to Mexico in winter and they
overwinter there. In the area they cover in Mexico – it’s an indication
of how many there are – has been declining quite quickly since
the 90s and a lot of conservation efforts in this region in Illinois have
in the Midwest have got into milkweeds. Milkweeds are connected to monarchs because milkweeds are the only larval food for
monarch butterfly caterpillars. That is, the adults can eat
nectar from all types of flowers like not all types but many types of flowers
it doesn’t have to be milkweed, but they’d have to lay eggs on milkweed because
that is the only thing their larvae will grow on and feed so they can develop.
Illinois is part of the summer breeding range for monarchs. Like I said they
migrate. The migration is just an amazing story and I won’t, due to limited time I
won’t get too much into it, but they do this every year for generations about
two generations I’m sorry breed during the summer months in the Midwest and
eastern United States spanning about September they decide that last
generation decides I’m flying off to Michoacan in Mexico they head down there
overwinter and then once it warms up a little bit just about a few weeks ago or
a month ago they started heading north and right now they’re probably on their
way to Texas and Oklahoma although one of my co-workers saw one and Champaign.
But it was looking pretty tired and probably not gonna make it. So in this
region this is their breeding range so that means egg-laying and larvae and a
lot of emphasis like I said it is on milkweeds. In the
goals for Illinois in the next 20 years is to plant 150,000,000 more milkweed stems than what we have now and my question, what I’m
really interested in, is where? Where should these milkweeds go? Where would
they be more most helpful? I calculated that we could fit that in one and a half
sections like a mile by a mile and a half wide rectangle but that probably
wouldn’t do much good if we pop them all down in one space, right? I really want to know all across the state
where do monarchs lay their eggs? Where are they most likely to use milkweeds,
and where where monarchs lay eggs do larvae survive? I’m interested in North versus South and East
versus West, urban and rural landscapes and then kind of at the
smaller scale milkweeds that are surrounded by other milkweeds and other
nectar sources or just pretty isolated. So this is how you can help. You are
kind of hopefully helping me collect this data in a lot of different places
where I couldn’t be all at once during one week in June and one week in July. Just to briefly repeat where the milkweeds go in
the garden, there should be four of them they should go on the edge
because you’re gonna get real up close and personal with them. The first
data collection point is in the third week of June so as long as they’re, say,
about five or six inches tall by that time they’ll be big enough for monarchs
so I recommend you get them going before then, Unless you buy them large then you
can plant them the day-of and monarchs will lay on them – the next day I’ve seen
eggs on milkweed. When you collect data you’ll be counting monarchs.
It’ll be eggs and larvae, some are caterpillars all types – alive, dead, damaged,
all of them. You’re gonna tally them up. Then there’ll be a separate section
for your dead and damaged larvae and eggs. On the top we have a freshly laid
egg and on the bottom left you see an egg that’s about to hatch.
The caterpillar looks to be healthy and alive and is about to pop, and on the
right you see an egg with a dead embryo in it and I don’t know why that is but
we just wanted to record that. It’ll take some practice figuring out the
difference. There are resources posted online to help you and also you can see
sometimes, I’ve seen this, like something small has come along and taking a bite
out of the egg. So if you see that just record it in the dead or damaged category.
In addition to the egg thing we need you to look at the larval “instars”. That is,
the caterpillars of monarchs go through five stages between being an egg and
a chrysalis and those five stages are called instars they molt in between
each of those instars. There are resources online to help you distinguish
the five larval instars and you don’t have to be, you don’t have to get it
exactly right, but take your best guess. If you get within one instar that’s
still very helpful. Then we’ll ask you to collect some simple things on the
vegetation. That is, how tall the milkweeds are compared to other plants
immediately. Are they taller than the milweeds? Are they shorter? And then
how many of your milkweed survived. We ask that you plant four of them – and yeah,
we’ll see how many make it. When you collect this data look at all the
milkweeds in one day. It should only take a couple minutes per milkweed and we ask
that you do it at least once per month in June through September with a minimum
of four times all summer. You can collect more than that.
You can collect data up to once per week but I wouldn’t collect data more than
that – more often than once per week. We’re going to ask you to do a
little bit of homework to distinguish eggs from latex drops.
Milkweeds have this milky sap that give them their name. Sometimes
that comes out in round drops that look a lot like eggs. And then the
other thing is learning how to distinguish the different instars. There
are a couple of helpful resources, websites, and groups that have some
information and we have information linked from those resources on our
website. Also I’ll mention the bottom line, the Monarch Lab’s MLMP – the
Monarch Larva Monitoring Program. If you don’t want to plant your own milkweeds
but want to collect data on monarchs, that’s a great resource to go submit
citizen scientist data and they’ve been collecting a lot of data for a lot of
use but they still need more and they’re answering some really interesting
questions with that work. Here is the data sheet. So the main thing I want to
point out is that each plant gets one row. So there’s a Plant 1 row and you
enter how many eggs and instars that are total and then how many them look dead
or damaged. I mean, once you move on to the second planet viola it’s right there.
This is a paper copy meant to help you with collection in your garden but when
you go to submit we ask that you submit online although mailing is okay. Then
when you submit online I’ll just repeat something that Alex said: it’s helpful
to submit it as you collect the data rather than just dumping it all in
October. It’s okay if you dump that all on us in October but you’ll be
helpful as we got it in little bits. And I’ll pass that along to Michael. Okay I’m Michael McKelvey I’m here to
talk about BeeSpotter. My colleague Terry Harrison should
be on the line as well. He’s remote so we’re gonna see if we can
get him talking. Terry is your microphone working? Hello? Hey, okay! There’s Terry. Hi.
So I’m Michael McKelvey. I’m the webmaster BeeSpotter and Terry if
you’d like to introduce yourself? Yeah I’m Terry Harrison I’m the identifier
and scientific coordinator on BeeSpotter and we’ll be tag-team in
this presentation. One quick aside before we start. Every bee photo you’re gonna see
in the BeeSpotter presentation was submitted by a citizen scientist. Allright I’ll start things off. We have this slide here, what is BeeSpotter? It is a
citizen scientist initiative to engage the public in data collection regarding
bee populations housed here at the U of I and it began in 2007.
So we’re basically interested in geographical distribution of bees and in
seasonal abundance. Okay how this started was that in 2002 the North American pollinator protection campaign, which is a private group, requested a study from
National Academy of Sciences on bee decline because there was a lot of kind
of anecdotal evidence everyone seemed to agree that there on the whole seemed to
be a decline but what the study did was try to find out do we have good numbers
on this and one of the main conclusions of the study was that we don’t. So
May Berenbaum, the head of the entomology department here at U of I, initiated this
group this citizen scientist based group initially just for Illinois to see if we
could generate some numbers on bee populations here in this state. And we started out soliciting photos just from Illinois but fortunately we have a
great bumblebee expert, Sydney. Dr. Sydney Cameron is in the
entomology department right here and so I had some
conversations with her and that in conjunction with some requests from
people in other states wanting to know if they could participate and Sydney
informed me that the bumblebee species in these other states in
Missouri, Ohio, and Indiana are pretty much going to be the same as what’s in
Illinois so we were able to welcome records from those other states as well
and as far as the taxonomic range we can identify honeybee and the 13 native
bumblebees species from photos so many of any other kind of bee are just so
small and nondescript it would be very tough. Yeah and if you look on the keys
on the website even for the bumblebees some of the characters are like spacing
of the eyes and things like these are more designed really for having a
specimen of a be under a microscope but what we use of course are the color
patterns so bumble bees are big enough and distinctive enough if they’re in
good condition with the color patterns that if we get a good shot of one we can
identify it. Before we talk about how you can participate, we want to talk a little bit about what it is we hope that you would get out of participation in a project like BeeSpotter including an increased appreciation of pollinators, learning to identify honey and bumblebee species, and also gain an awareness of differences
and their seasonal cycles and foraging preferences of honey bees and bumblebees, and
increased knowledge about bees in general, increased awareness of the
challenges that bees are facing, a sense of contribution to scientific research,
and gaining an appreciation for the importance of accurate data collection
research, and also a sense of belonging to a community that cares about
biodiversity. So in order to participate there’s essentially four steps to
becoming a bee spotter. You first create an account on our site. You go out and
you photograph bees. You come back to the site and submit your spottings and then
after an expert identifies them you can see your contributions on the site.
It is a photo-based participation so it does require a camera of some sort whether
it’s a point-and-shoot camera or a really fancy camera or even just your smartphone, and
also some way to connect to the internet in order to upload these findings. You can read more about these steps for getting started at BeeSpotter.org/Getting-Started So the first step creating an account we try to keep it minimal so it’s not too
onerous to sign up so you just need your first and last name and email address. You
can choose a username which we’ll use instead of your name on the site and
also a password. Optionally you can include how you heard about us which is
helpful just for our own knowledge. You are able to browse BeeSpotter and
view spottings that other people have submitted without an account, but if you want to
contribute to BeeSpotter you can create an account. When you go out to photograph bees – and by the way, we do have a guide for taking good bee photos on the website it should be
pretty easy to find, but the idea is that each different spotting that you
submit wouldn’t be a photo of the same bee and it can certainly be multiple
photos because that often helps. Sometimes out of five shots there’ll be
just that one that’s absolutely perfect for identifying the bee, so we encourage
multiple photos as long as they’re all of the same bee within any one spotting.
And as it says multiple angles are useful Again what we’re looking for is
interleave the color pattern on the bee and yeah if you get it — say the
bee is on the flower and you’re standing right above it and you’re looking at its
back that’s the single most informative view especially if you can get it to get
its wings out of the way sometimes certain individual bees seem to want to
fold their wings over the abdomen as soon as they land and that can make it
difficult to see the color pattern. I think some of our photographers are able
to talk to bees because they always seem to get them to spread the wings
perfectly so I can see the the colors. I don’t have that good of luck when I try
it but, so that’s the general idea and as it said side view sometimes can be
useful and and occasionally head-on view. So the basic idea is just like any other
photograph you would want it well-lit you would want to be holding as
still as possible. You can get as close as possible. When a bee is on a flower,
it’s working and it’s very mindful of that and really the only time you’re in
danger of getting stung is when you get too close to the nest of these bumble
bees. It’s not at all likely that the bee is even going to be interested in
you other than maybe flying away and certainly it’s not very likely that
you’ll get stung. We do prefer full-size photos because
when I do go to do the IDs there’s a button I can click to bring the photo up
to full res, and that often is very helpful in seeing some detail that I
need to see. Also it’s ideal if you crop the photo to where just the bee takes
up the the entire photo. I get quite a few photos in which initially I have
trouble even seeing that there’s a bee on the photo because it’s a little dot
right in the middle of a big, you know bed of flowers or whatever, so that’s not
very good. The more bee I can see in a photo the better. Before we move onto the next slide, I just want to highlight the bee in this slide. It’s absolutely covered in pollen and one of my favorite photos that we have received. So the next step once
you’re done photographing the bees is to come back to the website and to submit your spottings. It’s fairly minimal for each spotting you just give it a title, which
is best if it includes some helpful information for you to distinguish your
spottings later. You might choose the location the flower it was on, the weather, something like that, what activity you were doing when you spotted the bee. Also the spotting date, which may be different
from the date you’re uploading it on That’s fine. It’s not always possible to
submit the spotting the same day that you actually take the photos.
The geographic location of the spotting and we’ll provide you with a zoomable map
where you can just click to select where it was when you spotted the bee. Of course upload your photo or photos of the bee and optionally you can choose to try to identify the bee.
You can try your hand at it see how it goes. We have some guides to identifying
bees that you can use to try to help you with the identification but don’t
worry if you get it wrong. We’re still checking it over we have an expert
identify it so it’s really just for your own
personal use if you want to try it out. Okay. As it says last step
here is that your bee gets identified. You don’t have
to try to identify it yourself and if you do, you know, we hope you keep it
fun. We do not keep any kind of metrics on how many you get right or how many
you get wrong or anything like that. So anyway, once I identify it, then I send an
automatically generated email to let you know it’s been identified and what it’s
been identified as, and sometimes I’ll put in a note about, “This is an unusual bee”
or, you know, if you didn’t identify it correctly I’ll note okay this one has
two yellow segments on the abdomen and the one you picked has only one so
that’s why it can’t be that. So that’s generally the idea here, is that once I
identify it then you’ll be notified. Okay, so we’re running up against our time so
I’m just gonna kind of speed through the next couple slides pretty quickly.
The historical records at the Illinois Natural History Survey have 5,300
historical records over the course of over a hundred years. Our BeeSpotter
has about 5,800 bee spottings submitted and that’s after 66
attempted spottings. So we’ve had 6,600 records contributed
and picking under whom we have identified as bees and that’s over
13,000 photos. So broad trends here that we have – caveat
that these are rough and broad trends comparing BeeSpotter data to the historical records. These are not scientific analysis but you can see some
differences that pop out between historical records in the BeeSpotter
data, in particular apis mellifera, which is the honeybee, makes up about a quarter
of our spottings entirely, in total. It was about five percent of historical records. Bombus impatiens has seen a bit of a
decline from 32 percent to 20 percent. Bombus pensylvanicus has had a
steep decline, 21 to 4 percent We’ve actually had a couple
on this, perplexus and Bombus rufocinctus that weren’t even in the
historical record, and for which we actually have seen spottings.
Those two we didn’t even have in our list when we started because we didn’t
expect to find them. We had to add them. And also interestingly,
on this variabilis was 5% of the historical record, and it’s the
only bee we have yet to see. Yeah so here are the two unusual bees that
we didn’t even have in our list at first. Both of these are found only up in
northern Illinois. Bumblebees are odd, they have higher diversity up north,
species diversity, than they do down here. So naturally with the concentration to
people up in and around Chicagoland, taking a lot of these photos it was only
in our first full year 2008 that the first affinis, shown here on the left,
showed up and then it was 2011 I believe when the first rufocinctus showed up.
So as I say, at the beginning we didn’t know if these bees were extinct
in Illinois but clearly they’re not. OK, so these break down the
various uses of the data so far, including researchers, Fish & Wildlife Service,
data analysts, conservation groups, many others. BeeSpotter data is collated
with other data to help create arrangements for where to find bee species
for scientists to help determine where to sample for their research. The Fish and Wildlife Service
is also promoting bee blitzes in the Chicago area related to Bombus affinis We had a group use BeeSpotter
photos for an image processing algorithm challenge to try to build an
image processing algorithm that would distinguish between honey bees and bumblebees.
They used our photo set to train their bots. And then the photos that we get,
we get so many high quality photos as you’ve probably seen
throughout this presentation that we get constant requests to use them for a
variety of purposes including in magazines, students doing school projects,
patient projects, conservation groups, and particularly
interesting to me, the U.S. Army’s Entomological Sciences Division for their training
materials, which apparently exists. So we have two years ago started what we call
a bee blitz. It’s based on the idea of a bio blitz where all the biodiversity in a
specific area is examined to provide a snapshot in time of the flora and fauna present. We’re interested in what bees
are present, one particular snapshot. This year we’re aiming for
June 22nd which is towards the end of Pollinator Week. And if you are interested in
planning a bee blitz in your area you can contact us and
we’ll promote it on our website. Ok one last thing that’s the kind of, as an adjunct
to BeeSpotter, is the Pollinatarium which is out in the south part of campus. The
building used to be the Bee Research Center, the U of I bee research lab,
which now has a newer facility on farther south but the building was in pretty bad
shape and May Berenbaum again was instrumental in lining up a whole
lot of volunteer work to renovate and refurbish the building and people like
Jean Killian over down in Paris, he was the state bee inspector for a long time,
and he collected a lot of antique beekeeping equipment that he donated to
it and that’s on exhibit there. And a local artist painted the outside of the
building with these nice insect and flower murals which are of course very
appropriate and inside they have an observation hive of honey bees. This is
just a full-fledged bee colony, only the walls are glass so you can observe the
colony. And there’s also a prairie planting right on the grounds so school
groups go there, and like in the fall they do these kind of “Meet the Insects”
projects where they give the kids nets and let them catch this or that insect
and then they bring it up and we tell them something about the insect. And so
yeah, the school groups are a primary visitor to the Pollinatarium and
it’s free. So you know I don’t have any numbers on numbers of visitors but I
know it’s a lot per season. OK, and that is it. You can find us online at Beespotter.org Facebook @UIBeeSpotter
and on Twitter @BeeSpotter And you can also find the
BeeSpotter link from the website you received in your emails. We’re actually
changing the URL there’s a there’s a different website in your email which
you can go to now, but the new URL is what you see up here on your screen. And now we’re going to
take time for questions. I see a couple of them came
in during the chats, so we’ll start with those. Let’s see where our
first one is here. One question: do all the flowers in the test need to be in one bed? Yes. Ideally all of the — when you
set up a bed, it is one whole bed because one of the big challenges we
have in designing this experiment, designing these gardens, is making sure
that they’re similar across different people’s yards and if we have people
separating them out that actually makes it, adds an additional element of
variation because then you may have you know one person’s yard they had their
marigolds next to tulips or other you know or other roses or other things in
your yard and another person’s yard to have it near something else. Having them
all together and ideally like a little bit isolated from the rest of your yard.
It doesn’t have to be totally isolated but in a distinct area will help make
sure the data is of a high quality. Another similar question: We already
have milkweed established without other plants around it.
Can I still report caterpillars? That would probably be most appropriate for the mlmp program, the
monarch larva monitoring program. I want for my purposes want to keep things as
uniform as possible for the reasons Alex was talking about. Gina asked, “for the past few
years I have been collecting monarch eggs and releasing adult butterflies. Do you want that information?” It’d be fun to share stories
but I wouldn’t need the data. I’ve been doing that too. Someone asked what the
butterfly is on the last picture. I think that’s a skipper. I should know I took that picture.
[laughter] A few things that I noticed, while we wait for more questions to come in – mentioned earlier and I would like to mention again, is that, one, for Beespotter
you can bee spot anywhere It’s literally anywhere you are you are.
In a parking lot and you happen to see a cool bumblebee go for it. You can also do
your bee spotters in our gardens or in your own garden, literally anywhere. So if
making a garden in your home is more of a commitment than you’re ready
for, maybe BeeSpotter is a great activity for you, but we really do hope
that people will put in these gardens because for me, for our project being
able to give people annual ornamental plants recommendations that are good for
pollinators is really going to be critical to helping more people have
pollinator-friendly gardens for many reasons. Some of the currently
recommended plants are really difficult to clean in your yard like I mentioned
at the beginning my own personal story of like being fined by the city – it was a
moral warning – but it did make me cut down a lot of my native plants that I
gotten totally out of control, honestly. I was not paying attention to them. Hello, am I still on? Yes. alright one thing I forgot to
mention for BeeSpotter is that we do ask that you NOT submit photos of honeybees in an apiary. The honey bees on
flowers are fine but in fact we’ve been asked by some beekeepers not to
submit photos of honeybees in a man-made structure. This is Michael, that’s for the privacy of the
people who are keeping the bees, so that we’re not publicizing where they are in case somebody decides they want to go harvest. It’s kind of for their privacy Our Sangamon Extension
office asked can you do one program or does it have to be all three? I think that because David and I have similar objectives of wanting to
look at specific plants, if you’re gonna do the the beds, you probably can do
both. Actually I know it sounds like a lot of steps but it should
actually not take very much time because the observations are only three minutes.
Once you have the bed established we only anticipate each sampling round to
take maybe an hour, hour and a half across the entire week so it doesn’t
take very long, but you can definitely either add BeeSpotter to that
or do BeeSpotter separately. If you don’t want to… look for monarch eggs then you don’t have to, but
probably if you’re going to put in the garden you can have this — you
can do two in one and one. You can either do all three or two in one again. another question someone already has
native plant beds and wants to participate in the program.
Will that data be useful? Absolutely, because one of the things we’re interested in is
how your neighborhood is affecting the other plants in your
yard, how that’s affecting the attraction toward ornamental plants and things like
that. And that’s one of the reasons that we asked people to record information is
because some people have beautiful gardens that are all ornamental plants
and some people have beautiful gardens that are all native plants and those
things might influence what we’re seeing on the ornamental plants that were
interested in so absolutely if you have natives in your yard we love to have the data. Yeah so that’s regardless of what your garden looks like now you can you can
put in a test garden and join the study. Another question is, “I have a raised garden
bed and I was going to use for this project is that okay?”
Absolutely. I mean any space that you have it’s only 24 plants, that’s the space
of about four by six, that should be fine. Yeah I don’t see any reason why you
couldn’t use a raised bed there. Next question is, “To participate do you need
to establish the recommended garden and I think the answer for that,
for that for the ornamental plant study was that yes you do want to put in the
ornamental test plot since that’s pretty essential to the study. But if you
want to keep your garden as it is, you can still participate in BeeSpotter. If you want to collect monarch data again to repeat myself you can
contribute to the Monarch Larva Monitoring Program, MLMP, new monarch lab
but probably not mine Next question from Pat,
“Where do I get milkweed?” I’ve been seeing them at more and more shops, and then at farmers
markets in spring, in native plant sales. I don’t know what- what part of the state
do you live in Pat? that grow on the line If you’re not sure where to
get milkweed or good plant sources in your local area you can
always contact your local Extension Office and your Master Gardener
volunteers or your horticultural educators will be able to give you some
advice on on what’s near you. Next question is for BeeSpotter, “Would cell
phone pictures be accepted or do we need a high quality camera?” Cell phone pictures are fine.
That’s what I use when I’m going to bee spotting. You don’t need a
high quality camera. I mean if you have one, and you want to use it, go get
fantastic photos, but cell phone quality photos are absolutely acceptable. So yeah whatever is most
convenient for you, whatever you find useful when you go outside. I’ve seen some repeat questions in here
about different types of gardens I think we answered you can
participate in BeeSpotter with any kind of garden and in the other
monarch monitoring project that David mentioned. If you want to join the ornamental
plant study, then they do ask that you put in that plant design. And I see some tips in the
chat box here for where to get milkweed so thanks for that
everybody. If you start them from seed you have to start them today and take
real good care for them to be big enough on time. It’s possible but time’s
running out the starting from seed. So I know possibly not everybody on
the call has access to the chat box so if anyone needs to call out a
question, feel free to do so. Yes so someone asked if they if they can’t find the varieties that we
listed can they still use annuals. Well we do ask that – we told you to come
up with twelve – so we do ask that you have the same species and color variety.
So hopefully those twelve are ones that — we did pick a lot that
are very commonly selected or available in gardens, so hopefully there’s something
in there of those twelve and you can find. And just do your best, right? Like
and it’s not going to be perfect we are covering a large distribution and what’s
available to everyone it’s gonna be a little bit different but we do actually
try and stick at least with you know the yellow zinnias and the yellow marigolds
and things like that that we hope to be. So there’s at least some similarity
across the state even if their variety even if that we gave example varieties
but it don’t not worry about that at all it’s just an example. Another thing that I forgot to mention was that for each plant, we do
ask that you collect three to four observations. So each observation remember
is three minutes so we do ask that you repeat that
observation a few times just because having one single observation on one
single plant in one single yard obviously it’s not gonna be very robust.
Maybe it’s a not a great day or you know it’s late in the afternoon or otherwise.
The other thing to keep in mind is that pollinators like the same kinds of
conditions that we like. They like sunny days that is not too hot, so we ask that
you try and focus on recording pollinators in decent weather and
maybe not during the hottest part of the day so you know in the morning before
and 11 or so or 12 and then maybe late afternoon after like 3 or 4 o’clock Another question, Wildlife Refuge is
asking why the monarch project prefers swamp milkweed over a common milkweed? Swamp milkweed survives better than common milkweed even in dry areas. I
learned this the hard way last year where I planted 1800 plants and about
half of them died. The swamp milkweed survived at a much higher rate and it
was just bad luck that I put them in the ground in June and then it got really
dry and hot immediately afterwards, so that’s why I suggested swamp.
Also monarchs lay eggs on swamp milkweed more than they do on common milkweed so
that’s also part of the consideration. Jenna asks if the online instructions will
have all of the details for collecting data? Yes. Katie, who has not spoken
today, who is like the mastermind pulling all the puppet strings in the
back, she has devised a beautiful data sheets and instruction sheets and website
and everything that should have everything that you
need so yeah. There’s also a question form on the website so if you have questions as we’re going along please feel free to ask us. I think all or most of the folks on the webinar if you signed up you should have
gotten the note this week that the website has been updated with the latest
instructions, and if you didn’t hear there is a question form if you don’t understand
anything just get in touch and we’ll help you out Coleen asks, “Can we make our test
garden bed with more than six annual varieties?” If you’re going to have more space then sure, I think it would be fine, but we
would like it to make sure that you have at least [the six] plants and I think giving the more than 24 plants in that amount
of space would be difficult so I’d rather you have fewer
varieties than more varieties with your plants if that makes sense. If you
have one or two one plant one thing and then another plan of another thing it
makes it just to make the data a little bit more difficult. And remember this advice
is just for that little four by six test plot you can still plant absolutely
whatever you want most of your garden. [laughter] For the sake of standardizing
their study there was design for it. Another question about milkweed,
are there milkweed varieties such as whorled milkweed that would be acceptable? Some are and some are not.
Whorled milkweed gets many fewer monarchs on it than common
milkweed and swamp milkweed. It gets about 10 percent of them. So I would not
recommend that species the main ones that you’re gonna find
are common and swamp but also things like butterfly milkweed will get monarchs
on it and Sullivan’s milkweed if you’re up in the central Illinois region also
commonly will have monarch butterflies on it
but whorled is the one I would avoid and some of the non-native ones I would
avoid too because they cannot support monarchs. so feel free to play these anywhere else
in your yard but we’re really hoping for our garden beds that you’ll stick to the
list thing that we’ve given already. The question, can we use two varieties of
milkweed in the garden bed? I ask that you have four of one of the species
and that you send me data on those four plants but if you had say eight plants
and you had four common milk weeds and four swap milk weeds I have no
problem with that. Someone asks, so she has established common milkweed in her yard
could she put the other plants around it? Yes, that will be fine. I think as long as it’s not part of another big
garden with a bunch of other plants. And, same person, can I report on two
different test plots? Sure! Go crazy.
[laughter] However many test plots you would like to put in, please feel free to go ahead, have fun. Would we need a different address? [discussion, inaudible] Obviously, put the different addresses so we know. That’s how we keep track of it is
through the address of where the the garden is, so that make a little
difficult. [inaudible] She’s doing one at home
and one at school, so that’s fine. Another question, “Will
butterfly weed work?” Yes it will. Butterfly weed is on the good list. [inaudible] If you don’t use swamp milkweed you can list the other species that you use that that’s fine and if you have a question about whether a milkweed
accepts, I mean, will host monarch successfully you and you forget about it,
you don’t know the questions later, you should email me. My name is David Zaya and
I think my contact is online. So the Asclepius tuberosa that’s the same as butterfly milkweed so
all of those things across them, yes you can use them, ideally you would use swamp milkweed but I know Asclepius is super common and very easy to get so
that’s one then. If that’s all that’s available then please feel free. It’s not as good of a supporter I guess as the others, as the
swamp, but it’ll do just fine. It’s about a half or a quarter is good but it’s
good enough to get data. We’re about 10 minutes over time in our
webinar so unless there’s any last minute questions remember you can always
reach out to us after on the project websites that contact information. You can contact
me Deborah and I’ll try and get you to the right place.
Thanks so much everyone for joining. We really appreciate it. It’s gonna be really amazing for helping in
conservation efforts in our state for pollinators so thank you.

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