I guess it’s time to let people know what it is I actually do. I am following what may be happening to native bee populations here in the Sonoran Desert as urbanization (building) increases. You see, native bees are very picky about where they live and what they eat. Most of the bees here live in the ground. They build tunnels like ants do and lay their eggs inside, leave them with enough food and then leave to die. It sounds sad, but at least they try to leave everything their babies will need to grow up and continue the cycle. Here is a picture of a little lady peeking out of her nest getting ready to fly out for food
The other bees are what we call cavity nesters. They nest in cavities above ground. Carpenter bees are cavity
nesters. They build their nests above ground usually in wood. So I study cavity nesting bees that come out in the Spring and use Creosote bush for food (these plants had flowers at one point).
I also make artificial bee nests and place them out in my plots and look at all of them (~2,000 total) once a week until the first week of June. I did this last year and again this past spring.
You can see a few of the artificial nests (the sticks) lined up. The nests are just elderberry branches that I cut into 9 inch sticks and drilled a hole down the middle to simulate a cavity. I check them and record which sticks are being used by bees, which species, and how fast they fill each nest with babies. I can see into the sticks with an otoscope (that thing the doctors use to look into your ear). Sometimes you can see a bee mooning you near the entrance or they are looking out at you. Here is a male looking out wondering what the hell I am taking pictures of…
I provide these bees with free homes. That is how I am a “bee Realtor.” And in case any of you were wondering…I do sometimes feel like a peeping tom when I look into the nests.