Bee course 2013 – And so it begins…

After almost 5 hours on a plane, 3 hours in a van, altitude change and time change, you start to feel a little … off.

I’m currently in Portal, Arizona, and just finished my first day of classes in the bee course and after just 24 hours, I have a lot to talk about!

Image

South Western Research Station in Portal Arizona

First, I’ve got to say, that Arizona is very dry, which is very different from Raleigh, and I really love it. It’s gorgeous. Nights and mornings are quite crisp, and days are nice and toasty. Here’s a picture I took this morning, before breakfast. It was so quiet, you could hear the water trickling down the little stream near where I was sitting, the birds chirping and just nature.

Anyways, before I get too much into Arizona, I have to share a story about how all the travel and jet lag and altitude change affected me. I’m sharing a room with a nice girl who’s studying in Michigan, and she’s a great roommate; quiet, sweet, considerate. So don’t get me wrong when I tell you this story.

I woke up about 4 times last night, either because doors were slamming shut, or someone’s alarm was buzzing, but throughout I remained half asleep. So, in the middle of the night, when my roommate got up, I thought I was at home and someone was breaking into my house. I was so scared that my mind was telling me, ‘dont’ move! maybe this person won’t know you’re here!’. Well, I was so scared that the feeling of my fast beating heart woke me up and I realized I was just dreaming. By the time she came back into the room, I had already dozed off, and thought it was my dog coming into my room. Anyways, I was tired, and I slept a lot, so this morning I was re-energized and ready for the bee course.

We started out the day with introductions from the professors and students. Everyone here is working on very interesting projects. We then learned about bee morphology, and it was as though I was looking at a bee for the very first time. We were given a beautiful Protandrena bee as our ‘model’ and I was able to see body parts and details I was never able to find. I definitely learned a lot!

Then we got to learn about bee sampling techniques, and I was amazed to hear about all the different ways people sweep bees and get them into their kill jars. We had lunch and then went back into the lab to apply what we learned on bee morphology. Once we were done reviewing all the parts on our sample bee, we were told to go out, collect a bee, and pull out its mouthpart and it’ genitalia if it was male. It felt like I was violating my little bee, but I did it.

Mandible and genitalia of male bee

Mandible and genitalia of male bee

We then had happy/social hour. I made myself one gin and tonic and I was done! Altitude really affects your body! We had dinner, followed by “bee biology in an hour” where we were given an overview of local bee biology and ecology.

Tomorrow we’re heading out for our first field trip! I’m excited! Fingers crossed that I don’t get bitten by a rattle snake, or attacked by a mountain lion or harassed by drug mules. 🙂

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