NC native bee webinar this Thursday

This is a guest post by our research associate Elsa Youngsteadt.

  • What: Webinar on native bee biology, diversity, and outreach resources
  • When: June 30, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
  • Presented by: Elsa Youngsteadt & Debbie Roos
  • Especially for: County Agents and Extension Master Gardener Volunteers
  • Registration:

For the past several months, we’ve been hard at work beautifying, labeling, and arranging nearly 1500 bee specimens into 50 display boxes to send to County Extension Centers across North Carolina. And they look amazing! Each box contains about 30 specimens that represent the many shapes, colors, and sizes of North Carolina bees (plus a few tricky look-alikes).

One of the native bee display boxes being made available to County Extension Centers this week.

Closeup from one of the specimen boxes, showing a sunflower bee, blueberry bee, and hibiscus bee.

We’ve been using one of these display boxes at outreach events around the Triangle for about two years now, and we never tire of surprising folks with the tiny bees, the green bees, and the parasitic bees. They’re all members of a group of insects—the bees—increasingly recognized for their importance in pollinating plants in natural and agricultural ecosystems.

Bees are important pollinators in agricultural and natural systems. Here, a sunflower bee (Svastra) visits black-eyed susan. (Photo by E. Youngsteadt.)

Closeup from one of the specimen boxes showing several kinds of North Carolina sweat bees.

But some bees have also experienced health problems and population declines, and gardeners are stepping up to create habitat to sustain these insects, even in urban and suburban environments. We in the Frank Lab support this movement and (in addition to our research on urban bees,) we have hosted two workshops on gardening for pollinators, helped develop a native-bee exhibit at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, and attended more than 40 other outreach events over the past two years. But we can only go so far, and North Carolina is a big state. That’s where the 50 boxes—and the webinar—come in.

We want anyone, anywhere in the state, to be able to get up to speed on native bee biology, and we’re customizing our webinar for Extension Agents and Extension Master Gardener Volunteers who may wish to incorporate native bees into their own programs. I’m co-presenting the webinar with Debbie Roos, Chatham County Agriculture Agent and pollinator gardener extraordinaire. We’ll offer a primer on native bee biology, bee-friendly gardening, and outreach resources. We’ll cover such FAQs as: “That tiny thing is a bee?” “Which one is the queen?” and “How do I make habitat for ground-nesting bees?” The outreach resources include fact sheets, games, and Powerpoint slides—as well as the aforementioned specimen display boxes.

Any North Carolina county represented at the webinar will be eligible to receive one of the boxes (on a first registered, first served basis, until the 50 boxes are all claimed). We hope our webinar and outreach resources will help increase understanding of native bees’ biology and habitat requirements to promote a mutually beneficial relationship with these insects.

To attend the webinar, please fill out the registration form on our website.


Most specimens in the boxes came from surplus collections of the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab (Patuxent, MD) and from student collections made to meet course requirements at NC State. Thanks to Sam Droege, John Meyer, and Brian Wiegmann for sharing these specimens.

Students Danielle Schmidt, Stacy Partin, Cat Crofton, and Anna Holmquist spent many hours cleaning, fluffing, arranging, and labeling these bees so they would look both recognizable and appealing.

This entire effort has been made possible by an NCSU EEED Seed Grant.

2017-06-19T11:25:35-04:00 June 27th, 2016|Categories: Lab Happenings, Pollinators|Tags: , |

About the Author:

Elsa Youngsteadt
As an insect ecologist, I am interested in plant-insect interactions and their responses to human modified environments. Plants and insects diversified together, producing the fascinating array of interactions we see in the world today—from seed dispersal and pollination to herbivory. My current research asks how urbanization and climate change alter plant-insect interactions, using scale insects and their host trees as a study system. I am comparing scale-insect abundance across urban, latitudinal, experimental, and historical temperature gradients. My other ongoing projects examine arthropod diversity and function across New York City green spaces, and the effects of Hurricane Sandy on New York’s urban insects. Ultimately, my goal is to understand how human activities, including both urbanization and restoration, can be guided to preserve a diversity of plants, insects, and their interactions.