Riderwood resident assists with bee research

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Annelie Wilde fills up one of the brightly colored disposable cups with soapy water in an attempt to collect bee specimens for further research. (Photo by Chris Taydus)

By Judith Johnson

Resident Writer

Annelie Wilde joined the garden club and went to one of their talks. There. a man from the United States Geological Society’s Patuxent Wildlife Refuge  talked about saving bees and needing volunteers to collect data. Annelie’s background is as a scientist and she was glad to find a place at Riderwood where she could use her skills.

She places 30 2-inch cups painted blue, yellow, or white five meters apart at the edge of wild grass areas around Riderwood. She puts them out at 9:00 a.m. and collects them at 5:00 p.m. The study is also testing whether the color of the cups makes a difference in attracting bees. No honey or sugar is put in the water, but Dawn dish washing liquid is put in so when the bee lands, the surface of the water breaks and the bee falls in and drowns.

These bees are not the size of honey bees. They are the size of a grain of rice. Annelie takes out flies from the cups. She puts the bees in a jar and washes them with soapy water and then dries them with a hair dryer, puts them in a plastic envelope and then puts them in the freezer. The goal is to survey and identify the native bees and where they occur. Eventually there will be a Riderwood bee code in the database that anyone can look at.

Annelie says, “The fun is all the things I’m learning. The garden club gave me this opportunity and now I have a new hobby and new friends. Through Riderwood, I met Sam Droege, the USGS bee man and now I have a new passion.“ If you too want to volunteer, call Sam at 301-497-5840. When Annelie’s paperwork comes through and she is an official volunteer, she will be able to take others with her to the Patuxent Bee Lab to look at the bees pinned and cataloged.

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