17 Jun Bee’s in the Trap: A Summary of Week 3
We finally set up our traps!!!!
After 2 weeks of building, pinning, learning, and labeling, we finally got to go out into the field! We got to visit our 5 sites over a 4-day period – these sites spanned from Mt. Healy (which is right outside our office) to Kantishna (92 miles into the park), requiring a lot of driving and hiking. At each site, we had 3 different plots: a forest plot, a shrub plot, and a tundra plot. At each of these plots, our team set-up 6 bee cups (2 blue, 2 yellow, 2 white), a temperature logger, and a soil temperature logger. We also partially put up vane traps.
The bee cups are meant to attract pollinators by mimicking blue, yellow, and white flowers (at least by their colors). Each of the cups is filled with a propylene glycol-water mixture, with a dab of soap and bittering agent. This mixture is meant to capture and preserve insects – soap is used as a surfactant so that the insects sink and drown (it sounds grim, but such is science!), the propylene glycol (we use a non-toxic antifreeze) preserves them, and the bittering agent is used to deter other wildlife from messing with the traps. When fully set-up, the vane trap will also catch pollinators. One of the reasons why we didn’t set up the vane traps fully was that we didn’t want to risk catching too many queens i.e. removing the potential for queen bees to create and support new colonies. We’re having a late spring/summer, so we’re assuming that most of the bees flying around at this point are queens that have come out of hibernation and are just about to start their colonies – we want to give those queens a chance to reproduce!!
Anyways, the field work was awesome. We got to drive into the park (which you’re only allowed to do with a special permit/as park staff) and saw some incredible wildlife! Unfortunately, I was lagging a little bit behind everyone because 1) I’m slow and a little out of shape and 2) I suddenly have knee problems related to hiking. I’m hoping to heal so I can be a better teammate, so here’s to healing by Week 5!