Imagine working every day to this! Well that’s what I’m lucky enough to do every time I go to Puerto Rico.
In October 2012, I was hired to work on the best project in the world: studying native and naturalized bees in Santa Isabel, PR and St-Croix, USVI. This January, I started my first bee collection and boy did it go well! I found a new species for Puerto Rico, which I have yet to identify, and I also saw a Xylocopa mordax flying over my head when I went to St-Croix…which had not been recorded for the USVI.
But first, let me start at the beginning and explain why I’m studying bees. The big objective of this project is to quantify the pollination services provided by native bees. Basically, see how much money pollination can bring. To do so, we’re first surveying the bee population in SE Puerto Rico and St-Croix. Along with catching and identifying the bees, we’re also identifying the wildflowers on which we see the bees foraging. Using this information, we can recommend a seed mix of wildflowers that can attract bees. The wildflowers can be planted along the field margins to attract and maintain bees in the field…a nice little bee sanctuary amidst the intensely managed field. Then, the second phase of this project is to see how this field margin affects the grower’s overall profit.
Having completed the first survey, I’m amazed with the diversity I was able to find within and around the agricultural fields. Almost all the bees were spotted on wildflowers, but I did manage to see Exomalopsis bees foraging in watermelon, eggplant and pepper flowers.
This picture made my day.