This is a drawing of an Agapostemon virescens I did a few months ago, a solitary bee often called a metallic green sweat bee. As the name implies, it’s very colorful in person- it’s head and thorax are metallic green and its hairy legs can be bright yellow. I haven’t figured out how to add color to my drawing yet, but have been experimenting with colored pencil and photoshop. We’ll see what happens.
My friend and coworker Julie has been teaching me all about rearing bumble bees lately. She is starting a few colonies in the lab, and every once in a while there are casualties. And to my absolute joy, I get to dissect them so that they don’t go to waste 🙂 Typically when they die we look for parasites and signs of disease, but at this time of year, we are also interested in whether they are mated or virgin queens. So in this dissection, I was looking for the spermatheca, the organ where sperm is stored until it is released when eggs are laid. In a virgin queen, the spermatheca is completely clear, like a little piece of perfectly round glass. The mated queens have a milky spermatheca. As you can tell, this one had mated.
There’s a lot of other stuff going on here, too. You can see the intestines, the white ovaries extending up from either side of the spermatheca, the stringy white malphigian tubes (part of the excretory system), and lots of other good stuff that I will save for another time.
For the past couple weeks at work, one of the things I have been doing is rearing blue orchard bees to weigh them before they are released. I also just got a new phone with awesome time-lapsing abilities, so I have been practicing on the little bees as they emerge. This is one of the better ones so far. I have yet to capture the emergence itself in a way that is both stable and in focus, but I like this one because you can see a mite crawling around on the pupa case while it is starting to chew its way out. If you catch it’s ‘mustache’ and long antennae, that is how you know it is a male. Pretty neat, huh?