The South Carolina Mid-State Beekeepers Association

Subtitle

Flying Insect Identification

Beekeepers are often approached about winged, flying creatures, especially during the spring and summer months when there is a lot of activity.  


But, are they honey bees?

 

The link to this Wikipedia chart & descriptions below may help identify your insect.

 

Types of Bees

Types of Wasps

Flies

Flies have only 1 pair of wings, while bees and wasps have 2 pairs.

Why is "Honey Bee" Two Words?

Regardless of dictionaries, we have in entomology a rule for insect common names that can be followed. It says: If the insect is what the name implies, write the two words separately; otherwise run them together. Thus we have such names as house fly, blow fly, and robber fly contrasted with dragonfly, caddicefly, and butterfly, because the latter are not flies, just as an aphislion is not a lion and a silverfish is not a fish. The honey bee is an insect and is preeminently a bee; "honeybee" is equivalent to "Johnsmith."

From Anatomy of a Honey Bee by Robert D. Snodgrass

Bee Dances

A bee that has just returned from a foraging trip will enter the hive where the other worker bees are and begin dancing on the dance floor, usually close to the entrance of the hive. There are typically two distinct types of honey bee dance: the round dance and the waggle dance. The rhythm of the honey bee dance may vary among different species of honey bees. 



Bees perform the round dance when the food source is relatively close to the hive, usually within 50 meters away. The way they perform this dance is by staying on one spot, and then turning alternately to the left and right repeatedly for around 30 seconds. This will send out a message to the other worker bees to locate the food source. The bees will touch the dancing bee's antennae and trail after her.

Information about this food source, particularly the type of food they are looking for, is communicated through the scent of that particular food source. However, this dance does not tell the other bees about the distance and direction of the food sources, which is okay, since the area that they have to search is not very far from the hive.
 

Waggle Dance                                                                                                                                

By means of the waggle dance a bee communicates to its hive mates in which direction they must fly to reach a food source. Austrian biologist, Karl Von Frisch, devised an experiment to find out! By pairing the direction of the sun with the flow of gravity, honeybees are able to explain the distant locations of food by dancing. "The Waggle Dance of the Honeybee" details the design of Von Frisch's famous experiment and explains the precise grammar of the honeybees dance language with high quality visualizations.


See Dance


Round Dance

Bees perform the round dance when the food source is relatively close to the hive, usually within 50 meters away. The way they perform this dance is by staying on one spot, and then turning alternately to the left and right repeatedly for around 30 seconds. This will send out a message to the other worker bees to locate the food source. The bees will touch the dancing bee's antennae and trail after her.


Information about this food source, particularly the type of food they are looking for, is communicated through the scent of that particular food source. However, this dance does not tell the other bees about the distance and direction of the food sources, which is okay, since the area that they have to search is not very far from the hive.


Waggling with Enthusiasm
What factors do scout bees consider when house hunting? And how do the bees communicate a really good find? Dr. Seeley explains how dance enthusiasm plays a role in determining where the colony will make its new home.

Pollen Flow: As Important as Nectar Flow

All beekeepers know about nectar flows; they look forward to them with eager anticipation. Most nectar-producing plants have been cataloged and written about extensively. There is however, another side to the nutritional coin in beekeeping. There will be no honey if protein is not available to developing bees. Thus, flow of pollen is just as important, if not more so, than that from nectar.


Recent analysis from three colonies showed a pollen flow in April (maple and dandelion), July (various agricultural crops) and September (goldenrod and ragweed). Although the dates correlated with the traditional plants present at the time, the study did not give information about specific plants and how much they might have contributed to the protein supply. Given this set of data, the author suggests that the time pollen supplement/substitute would most benefit a colony would be early March, mid-May and August in the region. The time to trap pollen corresponds to April through early May and September. It pays to know these flows, which can vary greatly depending on region, the author concludes, to determine when supplemental feeding might be needed. Besides timing and quantity, the quality of the pollen flow these days needs much more examination.


It appears to be the most vulnerable part of the flower to environmental contamination and serves as a magnet for things like heavy metals, as shown by Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk at the University of Montana. Adverse conditions can also quickly erode its viability; studies in preservation of collected pollen provide abundant evidence of its ephemeral nutritional value. Pollen is plant sperm. Recent investigation on non-viability of sperm in animals from alligators to humans, thought to be the consequences of chemical contamination in both air and water, may also apply to that of plants. Though not as vulnerable as other kinds of sperm, being housed in a tough outer shell, pollen is nevertheless still a far more fragile commodity than honey.


Lack of pollen and consequent inadequate nutrition has been implicated in many conditions that have defied description. Although not proven to everyone's satisfaction, "disappearing disease", "autumn collapse", "May disease" and others may be directly related to genetically inclined to serve protein and thus, pollen deficiency. Some pollen is even toxic to colonies. A feeding study done in the Florida?s Panhandle was inconclusive concerning whether or not pollen deficiency had some impact on bee colony loss originally attributed to tracheal mites, but the symptoms were certainly similar to those conditions mentioned above.


Perhaps the most innovative use of pollen and protein monitoring occurs in Australia. There gross nitrogen is measured to determine whether bee colonies should be moved into and out of eucalyptus groves, notorious for poor pollen flows.

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