17– Don't touch my hive! Honey bees and killer hornets with Dr. Joe Wilson l Day 69

May 19, 2020 Utah State University Office of Research Episode 17
17– Don't touch my hive! Honey bees and killer hornets with Dr. Joe Wilson l Day 69
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

During your quarantined google searching, the infiltration of the Asian Giant Hornets 'murder hornets' into the U.S may have come across your screen. But are they really a threat? Wyatt and Dr. Joe Wilson, one of USU's evolutionary biologists, calms our nerves (especially for us in Utah) and gives us a look into the lives of these wasps, along with honeybees' domestication and 'endangerment'. 

Wyatt: [00:00:00] Today is Tuesday, May 19th, 2020. Do you remember January? You know, that month, right after December short days, no sun snow and COVID-19 seemed like someone else's problem. I'm not going to lie. I love ignoring problems. Especially problems about bugs, bugs, and viruses, and also  giant Asian Hornets. I was planning on ignoring this new murder Hornet, and then I realized that it wasn't just a new attentionally invasive species, but it was also an excuse for me to call up my favorite evolutionary biologist, Dr.

Joe Wilson. My name is Wyatt Trauber. You could be spending some time knocking down an old paper, wasp nest, but you are listening to this. Instead a podcast where I ask USU researchers questions. So you can save yourself some time, bushwhacking your way through pages of conflicting, no results.

Washington is the only us state where giant Asian Hornets have been found. So I want to say, Hey, to any McKnight, middle schoolers and my cousin, Jessie troppers class. I think she might be assigning them to listen to this because it's especially relevant to her students who live in the Seattle area. And to my cousin, Jessie, I want to say, I'm sorry, I didn't send you a wedding present.

I'm also sorry that the Rona meant you had to postpone your wedding. All right. In this episode, you will learn where these Asian giant Hornets have been found, what is being done and how they got here. You'll also learn how honey bees and beekeepers in Japan keep these giant Hornets from taking out their entire hive.

We'll talk about the role of these Hornets and to other Roths fill in our ecosystem and why these Hornets aren't going to like Utah very much, even though we're a state, that's all about the beehive. We'll also talk about what other threats honeybees are facing and how much we should worry. And then we'll get into the real cool stuff.

The bees that were here before the honeybees showed up, I'm talking about Mason bees, Bumble bees, leafcutter bees, and one teeny tiny itty bitty bee. But the first thing I'm going to do is get to the bottom of why Joe lives 114 miles away from USU main campus. I wasn't planning on asking this question, but if you're a student or a parent, you're going to be happy.

I did. All right. Here's my conversation with Dr. Joe Wilson. 

Joe Wilson: [00:02:30] I'm Joe Wilson, I guess I'm Joseph Wilson. Uh, I'm with the Utah state university at the Twilla statewide campus in the biology department.

 So what's it like to work into Willa and not be on campus? Why are you down there really? There's some really good things about it and there's some, some less good things about it, but overall it's a really good experience.

I'm I'm actually down here because this is where there was a job when I finished my post-doc, but I'm from Utah. Uh, so I, I kind of knew the area and I really value being kind of out from the city because of my research. Cause I can just go right outside of my building here at the Tuilla campus and do research on bees and wasps.

Like literally right outside I've, I've filmed nests of bees and parasites. Parasitizing those nests and it's pretty fun. 

Wyatt: [00:03:20] Yeah. Why does your position exist at the Tuilla campus? 

Joe Wilson: [00:03:24] So the Utah, a university as a land grant institution, we have kind of a mandate to try to provide higher education to Utah broadly, especially in some of the rural areas.

And so we have a lot of campuses around the state and two will is one of these campuses that they've developed more. We have two buildings there. We have several degrees that we offer four year degrees master's degrees. We are enabling people living in areas that are don't have as easy of access to higher education.

So we can provide that to them. And we do a lot of distance learning. So I have students every semester. I have students from around the state from everywhere, from Vernal and Roosevelt to Caseyville and Moab and Delta. So, so we're able to get people the, this higher education and help them work towards their education goals.

All over the state. 

Wyatt: [00:04:14] Yeah. Yeah. Sorry. This wasn't like the main thing I wanted to ask you questions about that I'm so interested. Um, you can do distance education from anywhere and there's people that are at the Logan campus, um, teaching people across the street as well. What's the value of having researchers placed in these, um, distance campuses or regional campuses?

Joe Wilson: [00:04:32] I should say. Yeah.  I think they call them statewide campuses now. So it was tricky. Yeah. I think that's a really, um, uh, a good question of what's the value of having researchers there. And I think that more and more universities are recognizing the value that research plays in education. Traditionally, you were a research school and research was the main focus, or you were a teaching school.

And teaching was the main focus. And Utah has kind of separated the, the many universities that we have into those two categories and Utah state is one of the research schools, Utah state, and university of Utah. Um, and then the other schools. Research was not supposed to be part of their mission, almost every, um, every student, regardless of their major can benefit from research experiences.

Research really teaches you critical thinking skills and, um, you know, problem solving skills, all these things we want our graduates to have. And so having research opportunities at these regional campuses just really expands, uh, Utah state's ability to kind of produce really. I'm not sure what the word would be really high quality graduates, I guess, because students that come that have some research experience usually perform better in kind of the traditional metrics of success in college, you know, they get higher grades, which is one metric, but they also, when they get put in, when they find a job, they perform better in those jobs because they've learned the skills, not just like the hands-on.

I know how to. Pipette something in a chemistry lab, but just the, the skills that makes them think more clearly, which is really needed now, because we look at the news every day and it's like, I don't even know what to think anymore, but research, especially at a university level helps you figure out how to think things.

Wyatt: [00:06:18] Yeah. Yeah. I bet I've brought this up in an earlier episode, but I'm from Idaho and back in Idaho, our land grant universities in Moscow, which is up in the panhandle. So it's like 10 hours away on some crazy windy roads to get to. And like the only distance stuff that they did in Eastern Idaho is focused on like nuclear engineering and engineering kind of stuff because of the Idaho national labs, instead of.

Working at USU in the research office and like seeing the way that we're interfacing with people across the state. And I'm like, Oh, if I would have been able to see this kind of research happening as I was growing up, I would have understood what research is and that there were other types of research.

And some that I might've been interested in because like zany, I was just like, I don't want to be a nuclear engineer or whatever. 

Joe Wilson: [00:07:03] Exactly. And it really opens the door. I mean, I have a lot of students that aren't necessarily biology majors that they, we do some hands-on stuff in our classes. One of the benefits of here that idea, I guess I didn't mention is we have small class sizes.

So one of my freshmen level biology class in Logan, there's 300 to 600 people in it. And I have about 20, so we can have a different dynamic. And so we talk about my research or we let them do some research and a lot of them ask to work in my lab. And so I think it really helps, you know, I've had people that are now dentists that did research in my lab and people that are history graduates that have done research in my lab.

So. But I agree. I think it, it opens the door. I know when I look back at my college, you know, I went to college for a long time. And the only stuff I really remember learning was in a research lab. That's how I really understood how evolution worked. And now I'm an evolutionary biologist. So it wasn't the lectures that did it.

It was the expense. 

Wyatt: [00:07:59] Yeah. Yeah. Speaking of evolutionary biology, how did this crazy? I can't remember the technical name, Asian killer Hornet coming to an existence. And what role does it play? 

Joe Wilson: [00:08:11] Yeah, so, so the people are calling it the murder Hornet, and I have never heard that name until like two weeks ago, officially it's called the Asian giant Hornet.

Someone decided murder Hornet was really cool sounding. Yeah. It might be somewhat grammatically incorrect. Maybe it should be like a murderer Hornet, but that doesn't roll off the tongue. I don't know. But yeah. So it's the Asian giant Hornet. Often people will ask me, what's the difference between a Hornet and a wasp.

And so a Hornet is just kind of a subgroup of wasp. So Hornets are kind of close, related, closely related. Um, Things that include relatives of, um, yellow jackets and bald faced Hornets. There's a European Hornet, they're social, they're all social. So they live in big hives. Uh, when we think of, so some horn is live underground, some of them build paper, like kind of a papier-mache bag that hangs from a tree.

So those are Hornet nests. Those aren't beehives, uh, as a social group, they have a queen that lives inside the hive and she stays in the hive. Then they have lots of worker Hornets. They're all sisters and they all, they're all hunters, Hornets are generalist predators. So they, most of them kill other insects.

And then they bring those dead insects back to feed the babies. But they're also kind of scavengers, they'll go to roadkill and take pieces of that off, or they'll go to your hamburger at your barbecue and take pieces of that home. So they're just looking for protein, other animal proteins, but they as hunters, they basically hunt soft-bodied insects.

A lot of the pest insects that we think about, uh, grasshoppers and, uh, flies. And some of them will have spiders, a lot of focus on soft things like caterpillars. Cause they're easy to manhandle. 

Wyatt: [00:09:54] I've heard that if you're or having a picnic and you're being bothered by Hornets or ROS. So you like, you should just throw a piece of lunchmeat meat to the side and let them be occupied by that.

Joe Wilson: [00:10:03] You know, I, I, I heard that recently too, and I've never tried it. So I think I need to try it this summer. Cause they do come to your lunch meat, but I don't know if it would just bring more and then 

Wyatt: [00:10:12] if they're kind of helping to control those populations and clean up dead meat as well. So they do serve a role in the ecosystem.

Cause I've heard that they. I've heard that they just don't do anything and that we don't need them. 

Joe Wilson: [00:10:25] I might've seen the memes. There's a lot of memes that go around on the internet. There shows like a bee is helpful and friendly and pollinates our food and the wasps are just jerks. And so people, people have that perception that lost just sting.

You then run away and they don't do anything, but they're really, really good pest control. So if you have a garden or you like to be in your backyard, wasps can be beneficial. But as predators, they have a little bit more temperamental personality, you know, because they, they are hunters. They're happy.

They're, they're aggressive by nature, but also the social wasps, like Hornets, they have a hive to protect and they're not going to like go out of their way to sting you unless you're by their hive. And they feel threatened because that's where all their babies are potentially hundreds of babies in there.

And they don't want you to bug the bug. Yeah. 

Wyatt: [00:11:11] So tell me why people are so concerned about finding an Asian Hornet and, um, Washington state. 

Joe Wilson: [00:11:18] Yeah. So I think so it's an interesting, uh, this, I first heard about these Asian Hornets in North America last fall. And so there was two, two or three, um, sightings.

There was a nest found, so a alive active nest of these Hornets found in British Columbia. So that means the Hornets were there and had established and made a little FA uh, family colony, uh, that nest was found and it was destroyed. By the officials in British Columbia. Then shortly after that, that was like in September of 2019.

Then in October of 2019, someone found a dead Asian giant Hornet just across the border in Washington state. Um, some reports say they found one dead, one, some reports say they found two dead ones, but the reason it's concerning is because these Asian giant horns, besides being two inches long and really scary, um, you know, they're an intimidating wasp, but they, they, they are well-known for killing beehives.

So 50 Asian giant Hornets can kill 50,000 bees, which is roughly one hive worth of bees. They can kill 50,000 bees in a couple hours and they're just super aggressive. They bite the bee in half move to the next B bite to be in half. They just decimate these hives. So beekeeping and the pollination services that.

Bees provide honeybees. This it's big business, especially in Washington state with all the orchards and things like that. So it was concerning, especially to beekeepers that these Asian giant Hornets could be one, one more threat to the beehives. And so, I mean, every state has organizations that look for invasive pests.

When you drive to California and you go through that little checkpoint and they ask if you have any oranges or whatever, and everyone always wonders, why are they asking me? Because I just they're asking because they don't want to bring pests into their state. Washington state won't fail the same way that they have.

They don't want these new pests in their state. And so what they did is, uh, in the winter time, the Asian giant horn is not active. The hive dies in the winter time and they have, if they have been a successful hive, they have, uh, created new Queens that disperse and hibernate for the winter in the spring, those new Queens come out and they'll establish a new colony.

And so those sightings were last fall. Then this April last month, Washington state put out some, some announcements that said to the citizens of Washington state. If you see these giant Hornets, let us know. So we can. Hunt down the hives and, and destroy them so we can stop the spread of these invasive pests.

Um, not because anyone had seen any, but they was, it was in April. This is when these new hibernating Queens will come out and start foraging and is way easier to control if you can kill the queen before she establishes a nest. So anyway, they made that announcement. And I think either because we're all stuck at home because of coronavirus or because it feels like the world is ending anyway, people really latched on to that announcement and it just kind of went viral.

So people in North Carolina were freaked out about this Asian giant Hornet. Even though it's, it's not established anywhere as far as we know, but Washington state is trying to get ahead of it and saying, cause it's easier for millions of people to keep their eyes out rather than for a few experts to drive around the city.


Wyatt: [00:14:30] Yeah. Um, so you've said to some print outlets that they're not really a concern here in Utah. Um, tell me why they aren't tough enough to live in Utah. 

Joe Wilson: [00:14:40] Yeah. So as this giant murderer horn, it sounds pretty scary, but they naturally, they live in kind of low land forest areas in Asia. So kind of moist subtropical areas.

Um, they don't really, even in Asia, they don't really get out into the Plains. They don't get high up in the higher elevation areas. They're pretty restricted to these, uh, low elevation forests kind of like coastal Washington state or coastal British Columbia, you know, think of the Redwood forests. Utah is very different from the Redwood forests.

We are both high elevation. And very arid. And so almost everything about our climate is not conducive to these Asian giant Hornets. Um, it's just, they have, they have evolved to live in these moist cool areas and we are not that. 

Wyatt: [00:15:29] Yeah. Um, how have, how do people in those low lying parts of Asian countries handle and mitigate the pest, um, as a giant horn?

Joe Wilson: [00:15:40] No, I know that's a good question. So how do they deal with it, where it is naturally found? Um, and it's the same way that we deal with yellow jackets. You know, cause we, we don't like them at our barbecue. And if you accidentally sit on one at stings, you, or if you're mowing your lawn and you happen to mow over their nest entrance, they will come out and attack you.

Um, the Asian giant Hornet is big. And so its stinger is then proportionally big, um, you know, two inch long wasp with a pretty large stinger and also proportionally. It has just, it injects slightly more venom than, you know, or maybe quite a bit more venom than a yellow jacket would. But the venom is not particularly.

Well, I hesitate to say it's not potent. Uh, it is toxic and it, and if you get stung a lot, it's not good for you, but it's the same thing is true for honeybees. And the same thing is true for yellow jackets. I don't think that it's it's as big of a deal. If you live there with them, you probably avoid bugging their nests, but you might've seen in some, some reporting of this, that this called the murder Hornet because it kills 50 people a year in Japan, something like that.

I was talking to somebody, my ten-year-old son was next to me. I was talking on the phone to someone asking about these Hornets and they said something like that. These kill 50 people a year in Japan. That's why they're the murder Hornet. And my son said to me, Yeah, but dad, how many, how many people do honeybees kill a year?

And I was like, that's a good question, son. Uh, so, so I looked it up and in the U S we don't separate it out by honeybee or wasp because people often, when they're getting stung, they're running away. So they don't know what it is, but honeybees and, and yellow jackets together kill up to like 70 people a year in the U S so it's not like the murder Hornet is that much more murderous, and they're not really dangerous unless you are allergic, but even the beekeepers in Japan, you can mitigate the, um, the slaughter of your bees by putting a screen mesh over the doorway.

The hornet's two inches long with a giant head, and the B is a half an inch long. So you have a wire mesh with small holes. The B can get through the small holes in the Hornet can't. And so there you have protected your, your nest. Yeah. Oh, 

Wyatt: [00:17:44] I was going to ask if there was anything you could do. Cause I was thinking about that.

I was like, it's a lot bigger. You should be able to make just smaller doors or like a little maze to get in. 

Joe Wilson: [00:17:53] Yeah, exactly. That's it. They also have some traps that they've created. I don't think they're like sticky traps of some sort that you put in front of the beehive. I haven't looked into those, but yeah.

So they're they have, they are doing that. There's also a really cool thing in Japan. I don't know if you've seen the YouTube video there. So the honeybees that we have that are mostly all around the world or a European variety of honeybees, there is a native Japanese honeybee. That's not as productive as far as honey output, but they actually, because they evolved with these giant Hornets, they evolved this defense.

And what they do is they let the first Hornet in, which is like the scout, the scout marks the territory then goes and gets all of the other sisters to kill the bees. So they let the first horn in. Then they swarm it and vibrate their bodies and cook it to death. Um, so the bees can like stand a temperature of 119 degrees and the Hornet can only stand at temperature to 115, but anyway, so they have this natural defense against it, which is pretty cool.

Wyatt: [00:18:49] I knew that they had a little different bee species there. Did they also have European honeybees over there as well? 

Joe Wilson: [00:18:54] Yeah. They people like European honeybees all around the world because they're really, really productive. You can get a lot more honey than some of the other native honeybees, but yeah, there is a native, Japanese honeybee.

They have, they have hundreds of bee species just like most places, but yeah, there's a native Japanese honeybee. Uh, but the European honeybees, they, they, I think use the wire mesh thing and they use some trapping methods. So it's not, it hasn't destroyed their bee population. 

Wyatt: [00:19:18] That's good to hear. Um, do you think that, so I know like African honeybees are like way more intense than the honeybees were used to.

Do you have any idea how they would react to this Hornet? 

Joe Wilson: [00:19:32] Uh, you know, that's a good question. So the Africanized honey bees are the ones that people call killer bees. Uh, I don't know what it would do because the Asian giant horn is pretty armored in a honeybee. He really can't really sting it. Um, so I don't know.

I don't know it happened to be interesting, but mostly it's also, it's like a dichotomy cause the Asian giant horn, it lives in the cool low land forest and the Africanized bee lives only in the warm, warm parts of North America. Like in Utah, for example, they're in St. George, but they probably won't make it much farther North in St.

George, because they can't stand the cold winter. I didn't even know. 

Wyatt: [00:20:04] We really had them here. Are they, are they just in hives? Are they out doing their own thing? 

Joe Wilson: [00:20:11] Well, so it's interesting because it's the same species as the European species. And so it's kind of like a African lineage of honeybees. It's a subspecies is what they're calling it.

Um, but they mix, they intermixed and as they intermixed, some of that aggression kind of gets toned down a little bit. Um, a lot of the feral honeybees. So they're the they're not living in somebody's hive. They've escaped. And they've, they're out in the desert in a, in a hole on a cliff or something. A lot of those are probably Africanized to some degree.

You can't tell the difference physically between a killer bee and a non killer bee, they look exactly the same. You can only tell genetically, um, I had a friend in Southern California that worked with honey bees for his master's and PhD. And he said his hives were all Africanized and he still, you know, he's still harvested honey from him.

And he still worked with them with. A beekeeper suit like everyone else does. So yeah, they're they're here, but, uh, they're not probably as threatening or scary as the name killer bee sounds. 

Wyatt: [00:21:11] Yeah. So do you think that  the European honeybee evolved to be more chill because that's kind of what people's preferences were when they were breeding them?

Joe Wilson: [00:21:23] Essentially. I mean, we don't think of them as livestock, but they kind of are. Oh, that's really good. I'm glad you, you, I I'm glad you voiced it that way because I kind of do think of them as livestock. Uh I'm I'm one of the minorities, but there are so many reasons to consider them that way because, and I think you hit the nail on the head.

So humans have been interacting closely with this European variety of honeybee for up to 10,000 years. Like there's a cave painting in Spain that shows that it's like a painting of humans getting honey from a hive. I mean, from a, like a cave. So honey, uh, humans had been interacting with the bees and over those last 10,000 years, we.

We probably have done some artificial selection, some domestication or semi domestication, you know, we're, we're still for the less aggressive bees that are really productive. And so, so I think that there has been some of that, uh, as evidenced by their high productivity and their interaction with humans, we actually call them a semi domesticated animal because they're definitely not like a dog.

Right. We can't train a honey, but we kind of can train a honeybee, but that's a different story, but they're there, they're there. They're not quite a wild animal, but they're also not quite, uh, Uh, a domesticated animal. And so it's, so the way they interact with wild animals here in Utah has been something that a lot of, um, researchers are kind of concerned about because honeybees can, can, uh, compete with some of the native bees.

And so it's kind of like if you had too many cattle in an area, that's not going to be good for the deer population, it's the same thing with honeybees. And so in that way, they are kind of like cattle is that we let them out and we let them do their thing and the open range. But if we're not careful about it and we don't have some regulations like we do with cattle, we might over, over.

Uh, exploit the resources that the bees are using. 

Wyatt: [00:23:10] Yeah. Um, just like kind of, these are often framed as kind of this fragile creature that we are definitely depended on, but I also know that they're big business. Like I've like heard about the major trucking that happens of moving these across the country.

So different crops can be maximally pollinated. Um, when they're flowering. So, how do you think about like the fragility of the honeybees? 

Joe Wilson: [00:23:34] Yeah, that's a good question. I don't think there's much of a chance that honeybees are going extinct. Uh, you know, that's one of the things that people like to kind of portray that idea that bees are dying and bees are going extinct.

I'm mostly talking about the honeybee. So honeybees face a lot of threats, um, as a semi domesticated kind of livestock type of animal, they, we have artificially changed their natural behaviors. You know, we, we put a bunch of honeybee hives together on a truck and we put them out in the middle of an almond orchard in February.

And then by the end of February, we put it back on a truck and move them to South Dakota or something. And so, so we are moving them around, which is not natural for them. We are also artificially increasing the number of honeybees in an area. So one of those white boxes, those beehives that you see those have about 50,000 bees in them.

And so sometimes like you're driving through, through the mountains and you see kind of a pull off on the side of the road and there's 10 of those white boxes kind of sitting by each other. This is a little apiary. And so if each of those boxes has 50,000 bees and you have 10 of those boxes, you have a lot of honeybees in that one area.

Uh, naturally they're never going to live that close to each other. And their hives generally, aren't going to be able to get as big because in nature, they live in a hollow tree or in a crevice in Iraq and that limits their size. And so, um, because we have kind of, we're using these agriculturally, we also increase the number of pests and parasites.

Um, kind of the, it's just like with people, you can see this kind of with Corona virus happening now, areas that have a high population density have a lot higher, um, transmission rates with viruses because there's a dense group of people and we are interacting with each other. Same thing happens with the honeybees.

If you have a lot of honeybees, densely populating, an area, the diseases that honeybees can spread, or the parasites that they spread from hive to hive, you get a lot more transmission of these pathogens and parasites. And so there's lots of threats to honeybees, um, but being a kind of an agricultural commodity.

You can actually split your honey beehive. Uh, you know, it's, you, you, you do, you take steps and you, you make one hive into two hives and now you have two hives. So even if you lost, you know, if you had, if you started with 10 hives and you lost five of them, one winter, because of various reasons, the next year, if you're doing everything right, you might be able to get those five back.

So they are under threat, but they're not going to, 

Wyatt: [00:26:11] I've definitely been hearing less about colony collapse disorder, um, and the past few years, and based on, I think I've heard that kind of, that's kind of stabilized. Is that the truth?

Joe Wilson: [00:26:20]  Yeah. As far as I heard, so colony collapse disorder was, uh, this one really specific syndrome.

So there's lots of reasons. Honeybees, the hive guys, or lots of reasons a beekeeper might go out and his hive is, is gone or is unhealthy for colony collapse disorder was a unique one because they would go to the hive and all of the workers were gone and the queen was still there. So it was really strange because sometimes the beat, the bees will leave their hive.

The queen will leave and you get a swarm of bees looking for a new home. Sometimes all the bees die from pathogens or, or whatever, but it's rare to have a hive when all the workers left, but the queen is still there because it's, it's, they call it colony collapse disorder because the whole social structure of that colony has collapsed.

And so it's, it's, it's, uh, it's as good as dead. But it's not quite dead. You know, there's not a bunch of dead bees. And so that we were seeing this, when was that like 15 years ago, maybe it was happening and people were reporting it. So they, they, they made this name colony collapse disorder and it was happening for a couple of years and people weren't sure why, but it really hasn't been happening as far as I can tell much lately.

I haven't heard almost any reports about it. It was just for this little window of time, but it's hard because colony collapse disorder since then has become this broader people. Use it a lot more broadly for anything that kills the hive. But winter die off is a common thing. And so you're high. You come back, you don't look in your hive during the winter because you don't want them to freeze, but you come on the spring and your hive is dead.

People say, Oh, colony collapse disorder. But really there's lots of the reasons for it 

Wyatt: [00:27:56] because I thought this was happening more recently. Was there other stuff that was just called colony collapse? It's also stabilized 

Joe Wilson: [00:28:02] there so that the she'll colony collapse disorder I think has stabilized that we don't hear much about it.

There are still a lot of people. Uh, there's a lot of hive die off. Uh, often they, they, they use the term winter die off cause it happens in winter, but people are still losing 40% of their hives fairly regularly, uh, in the winter. And this is from backyard beekeepers to big commercial operations and they, half of their hives die for various reasons.

I don't think that officially that's called colony collapse disorder. Um, it's not, it's not really necessarily something I hesitate to say that I was going to say is it's not really something new because hives have been dying off for a long time. And so there's, it's really tricky because if you look worldwide at the number of registered beehives, the number has been steadily growing.

So you could say there's more honeybee hives in the world and there have been in the past 40 years. But if you look just in the U S there has been some major fluctuations, it's not clear as to why. So some beekeepers say it's worse for them than normal other people's or other beekeepers are having, you know, are fine.

And so it's, it's partly because we move them around a lot more and there's always more and more different parasites and pathogens in the eighties. One of the biggest threats to honey bees around the world is a might, and this might get moved from hive to hive and feeds off of the bees. And, uh, as, as their, uh, when they're larvae and it can do a lot of damage to a hive.

That w that might wasn't in the U S until the eighties. And so honeybees have been here for hundreds of years, but in the eighties that might accidentally arrived here from somehow. And so that's that most honey bee keepers, that's one of the biggest threats that they face. They have to check their hives regularly throughout the summer, and often treat them with, um, kind of mighta sides, things that will kill the mites and hopefully not kill the bees.

So, so that's one of the things that is bad for honey bees, but there's a lot of things. The ways that just the way that our world changes, pesticides are known to be bad for honey bees. Moving bees around can be bad for honeybees. Keeping them in, in big, huge colonies can be bad for honeybees. So it's, there's, there's just a ton of threats to honeybees.

Uh, and so it's like the compounding nature of the way doing things is even harder for honeybees. 

Wyatt: [00:30:21] So, okay. We've talked a lot about honeybees, but I know that that's not really your focus. Um, you, uh, well, at least the focus of yours that I've heard you focus more on native bees. And you've also recently written a children's book about bees.

So if native bees aren't in big hives and they don't make honey what makes a, bee a bee? 

Joe Wilson: [00:30:42] That is a good question. So to not get too technical here, uh, bees are actually a specialized kind of wasp. Um, and I've tried to think of a metaphor for it, and none of them are quite spot on, but it's kind of like this.

So you could say, if you said what's the diff, so let me take a step back. People often say to me, what's the difference between a bee and the wasp. Or a B and O wasp. And so that's similar to what you just asked, right? What makes it be a B? And so, uh, to try to make a metaphor of this, it'd be like saying, what's the difference between a cat and a mammal.

Nobody asks that question because cats are a kind of mammal. And so you can't really say what's the difference between a cat and a mammal, but you can say, okay, well, cats. Are one kind of mammal. So what makes a cat, a cat? And if you were going to say that, okay, what makes a cat a cat? Well, they have retractable claws.

Um, they're carnivores, they're furry. They have a long tail most of the time. So you can think of some characteristics of cats that kind of define them as this, uh, out of this big group of mammals. So you can say, okay, dogs don't have retractable claws, so they're not a cat. Um, so wasps wasps is a big group of hymenoptera that includes wasps ants and bees.

They're all close relatives. So that would be kind of like the mammal part of this metaphor. Uh, bees are a specialized kind of wasps. So they would kind of be like the cat part of this metaphor. And so what makes a bee a bee, there are some physical characteristics that are most of the time they are true for bees.

Um, many of these that are true, the majority of the time are microscopic. So most bees are more hairy and we're used to thinking of bees as fuzzy kind of hairy things. Not all bees are Harry, but I'll be somewhere on their body. Have these little branched hairs. It's almost like a little feather looking thing.

So instead of just a simple hair, that's like a little shaft, it's a shaft with lots of little teeny hairs coming off of it. So these branch tears that's that defines bees physically, those are microscopic and you can't usually see them, but behaviorly what makes it be a B is that bees feed their babies pollen and wasps feed their babies meat.

Uh, there are some exceptions to this rule, but. Almost all bees are herbivores and almost all wasps are carnivores. Um, and so because of those, those, uh, those dietary differences, there are some physical differences that go along with it. Most bees are hairy and this is an adaptation to help them carry the pollen back to their nest.

Wasps can be pollinators because they also drink nectar, just like flies can be pollinators and butterflies can be pollinators, but bees, and I'm kind of biased here as a, as a bee lover, but bees are probably the best pollinators most of the time, because they're actively manipulating the pollen. Their whole goal is to get this pollen and move it around.

Um, they're trying to get it to feed their babies, but because they're actively picking it up and then going to the next flower and picking it up, they're going to move a lot more pollen around, but a butterfly, for example, it just wants to drink. So it stands on the flower. It gets a drink then moves on and so it might accidentally get some pollen on it.

But the bee is like trying to get pollen on. 

Wyatt: [00:33:54] So bees. So like, what's the different role between nectar and pollen in the bee diet? 

Joe Wilson: [00:34:01] Oh, that's a good question too. Yeah. So the pollen is their protein source. Um, so it's going to be there, their tofu, you know, it's their plant-based protein. Uh, the, the nectar is the energy drink.

It's the carbohydrate source. So it gives them, it gives them various things like amino acids and stuff, but it also mostly gives them the, the sugar. 

Wyatt: [00:34:21] What's like some of your favorite bees that are native to Utah and what makes them special. 

Joe Wilson: [00:34:25] I get asked the question a lot and I like a lot of kinds of BS for different reasons, but I have, um, I have consistently been looking, I mean, been liking.

Uh, fairy bees, 

Wyatt: [00:34:39] like the mythical creature or ferry boat?

Joe Wilson: [00:34:42] Okay. Like a mythical creature. And we kind of just made that name up. Many bees don't have common names. So actually like six years ago or seven years ago, I put it out on Twitter and I showed a little picture of a little teeny bee. And I said, because the genus is Perdita and Perdita is Latin for lost.

And it's unclear if the person that first described these was saying they're lost in, in nature because they're so small or because they're lost in the. The insect collection, because they're just like, you can't even really tell they're on a pin. Um, uh, but, uh, when I asked somebody, they said, well, the smallest penguins are fairy penguins.

So maybe we should call these smallest bees fairy bees. And I really liked it because I've never really seen a fairy in real life. But if I was to see a fairy I imagine it would be kind of hard to see. And you might not notice it at first when it's flying around or something. These fairy bees are also pretty, they're not like a, they're not like a mini bumblebee.

They're just kind of this sleek, slender, not very hairy, often yellow, lots of yellow colors and some maybe distinct markings on their face with yellow and some shiny green. Um, they look like gnats when they're flying around the flowers. Some of the smallest fairy bees, when I'm trying to find them, I have to just look for their shadow on the ground, underneath the flower.

Because they're just so small and in the sunlight, you can't even really see them flying around that flower. 

Wyatt: [00:36:09] So you look for the shadow and then it's, it seems if it seems magical, like, so like Peter pan, or do we look for the B you have to look for the shadow?

Joe Wilson: [00:36:15] Exactly. It's really funny, but yeah, they're the smallest ones in Utah they'd lived, I mean, in North America, in Utah, they're in St.

George and only in St. George, but they're um, about two millimeters long. So that as long as George Washington's nose on a quarter, really, really small bees, they look like little ants. I catch them with a, with a net. I haven't, my net is made of wedding veil material. So it's really, really fine mesh because if you just get a normal net from like wherever you buy nets, Walmart or something, they'll just crawl out of those holes.

The other reason I really like fairy bees is because a lot of them are really particular about their, their food. They're really picky eaters. Uh, in bees, we call that specialists. So they specialize on different kinds of flowers. There are some ferry bees that only will collect pollen from willows in the early spring.

Some ferry bees only from Mesquite flowers, some of them, uh, only, you know, various kinds of flowers. And so it's really interesting because they have this really close relationship with the flowers and the smallest one in St. George is on this little mat growing weed. It's sort of the flat flat. The plant itself grows really low to the ground.

And, uh, if you find the plant at the right time of year in the right location, you can find the ferry bees. And it's cool because they like it when it's really hot. It's two millimeters long, but it doesn't come out until it's a hundred degrees outside or something. And so they're just kind of really neat, interesting kind of unknown bees.

Wyatt: [00:37:37] I'm a little still curious about this net. Is there like a place that makes specialty nets for teeny tiny insects? Or did you have to like, if it's bridal and be like, listen, I need some help. 

Joe Wilson: [00:37:46] Yeah. That's that's also, I haven't, I have made nets for a long time. And so it's a, it's a hodgepodge of things.

The USDA B lab is where I was like, where I trained to become a B study or, um, they had a company up in Logan that makes custom net handles out of golf club handles. And so they would cut the golf club head off. And then they'd like kind of solder on this little hoop at it made out of piano wire, which is just like this thick gauge wire.

And then. When I was working at the B lab 20 years ago, I actually sewed the net. The nets, the net bags is what we call them the mesh part. And so I just went to Walmart and looked for some fabric that was clear that, you know, as you could see through it, the problem with wedding veil material is a lot of it has shimmery shiny stuff to it.

And you want to be able to see through the net. And if it's too shimmery, you can't see through the net. Very good. But I found this weird wedding veil material that worked really well. And I bought a bunch of it and I have used it since, but I'm running low because after a couple of years you get holes in your nets.

So I'm going to have to, I don't even know what to search on the internet, non shiny wedding veil material, or I don't really know. 

Wyatt: [00:38:58] My sister is a, she does costumes and stuff for, for theaters. And she sewed for like the past 20 years. So maybe she'll know like the key words. Cause that's, it's so funny.

Cause when you need something really specific, it's just like, I know it exists, but I don't know the keywords to find it on the internet. Yeah. 

Joe Wilson: [00:39:15] Um, exactly like non shimmering wedding veil is probably what I would Sue for, but yeah. 

Wyatt: [00:39:21] Yeah. Um, so what, why are these non-native bees important? Why should we care?

Joe Wilson: [00:39:29] Yeah. So why should we care about non native bees? Well, you know, there's, there's lots of reasons and I, I, I, I have a kind of an internal struggle when I think of these reasons, because as a scientist, I like, I, I like to think that research and, and biodiversity living things are, are valuable just because they are.

But I also have this internal struggle with trying to say why things are valuable. You know, we try to, as humans, we like to think utilitarian have a utilitarian view of the world. So, you know, how can they benefit me? And I struggled with this at graduate school. Cause I was studying a nocturnal wasp that nobody knew about or cared about.

And so I was trying to think, okay, how do I tell people that my research is valuable when nobody cares about it? Uh, with bees it's easier because bees, because that characteristic of bees, we talked about that they collect pollen. They bees are all pollinators and the native bees. Even though we don't, we can't put them in a truck and drive them from Florida to California.

They are good pollinators. And in some cases they're way better pollinators than the European honeybee. Um, for example, some studies in orchard crops have found that two native Mason bees can do the same amount of work as a hundred honeybees. In that orchard. Um, other studies have shown when honey bees and native bees together are in the orchard.

Both of them work harder, so you can get more pollination done when native bees or around a study that was done just a few years ago, suggested that rather than thinking of native bees, kind of supplementing the honeybee services, that it's actually the other way around it in, in many crops, honeybees are just supplementing the native bee pollination.

And so in a lot of different studies, native bees are doing the majority of the pollination of some of our crops. Sometimes it's because they're specialists sometimes it's because they, they fly faster. Sometimes they carry more pollen. Uh, some native bees have this ability to buzz pollinate. A buzz pollinating is when they can vibrate their body at a certain frequency causing more pollen to come out of the flower.

Honeybees don't know how to do that. So things like tomatoes. And eggplants and blueberries and things like that, that you get a lot more fruit per plant. When you have buzz pollinators, which is from native bees. 

Wyatt: [00:41:50] I used to watch this old house on PBS after church because it was all it was on. And also I liked it.

And I remember them showing a Mason beehive. And this was like back in like 2004 or five. And like, because bees have gotten, have good PR people are more aware of Mason bees and, um, these Mason bee houses, I guess actually, but I know that some of these aren't great and are actually can be harmful. What should you look for in a Mason bee home if you're buying one or is it better to make one out of like local wood?

Joe Wilson: [00:42:19] 

Uh, yeah, so it's tricky because I think the reason that they're harmful mostly is because we are then, so a little while ago, we talked about, um, honeybees as a semi domesticated animal. And we have, we, we have now treated them unnaturally, or we have kind of forced them into these situations that aren't naturally part of their behavior.

Right. We have thousands of bees together or we're driving them across the country. When we make these Mason bee houses, we are kind of doing the same thing. So in nature, some of these Mason bees or leafcutter bees, they're, they're Nat, they naturally find, uh, Empty cavities like empty holes in a dead piece of wood.

So if you're hiking through the forest, you might see a stump or a fallen log, and there are holes in it from beetles that have burrowed into that tree when it was alive. And now it's just an empty hole in the woods. The Mason bee finds that empty hole and it kind of repurposes it for its needs. Mason bees used mud.

So they might lie in that hole with mud and make little mud rooms. Leafcutter bees use Leafs kind of like wallpaper to line that thing. But so in nature, they're finding these holes in dead trees. Um, and so you can think across a landscape, there's going to be a dead tree here and there. And in that dead tree, there will be some scattered holes.

And so when we have in our backyard, our Mason bee house, I call them a bee hotel for my backyard and I have them in my backyard. Um, we are artificially increasing the density and the population of these bees and what happens then in nature. Cause there, there are wasps and there are even other bees that are parasites on these Mason bees.

Um, in nature, if you have a parasite in this one fallen tree, it still has to search around and find the next fallen tree to F to parasitize another nest. But in your backyard, when you have hundreds of Mason bees in your backyard, one parasite comes and it can suddenly parasitized, lots of hives. And then the next year, all those Paris, I'm not hive.

Some Paris ties a lot of nests the next year, when those parasites come out, there's still hundreds of more nests. And so you kind of are, you can artificially increase the parasite load. Um, it's the same thing with other pathogens. There's fungus that will attack the Mason bee larvae. And it's really easy for those to spread around when you have concentrated them in one area.

So what? Oh, go ahead. 

Wyatt: [00:44:41] No, I was just going to ask if you do what kind of maintenance or if you do anything to take care of your Mason bee hotels.

Joe Wilson: [00:44:45]  Yes. So I am a bad hotel owner and I don't do much, but I also, Mike, Mike, my excuse is that as a biologist, I like to observe. Both sides of, of the biology spectrum.

I like the bees, but I also really think that the Paris parasites and their behaviors is really fascinating. So I like to see all of the biology in the backyard, not just the, the nice parts, um, but what you can do. So what happens if you're artificially increasing the population size, uh, and you're getting parasites, but more importantly, if you're getting these pathogens like fungi, you need to get a new high, a new, uh, B hotel periodically.

And once your bees come out, you need to throw the old one away. So some people will go as far as they'll dissect, open their Mason beehive. So they just have the cocoons and then you can like throw out the ones that are dead and you can do it that way. Like you can be really hands-on no. Exactly. I'm not going to do it either.

And so in the spring, so depending on what the bee is, Mason bees come out pretty early, like in April. And so what they say to do is you can put your, your, you put out a new, uh, hotel and remove your old one, but then if you put it into a box with little holes, poked in it, that that the spring generation can escape the box, but none of them are going to nest back in there.

And so that can help with some of the fungus's and the mite problems. But, um, another thing that you could maybe do is take a couple of years off, you know, uh, if you have some in your yard, put those away for a couple of years, or, you know, just get rid of them for a couple of years to let things kind of re re uh, equalize and then put a new Mason bees nest out.

Wyatt: [00:46:23] I think I know a bumblebee when I spot them. I'm not sure super fuzzy, what's their deal. What do they do? But do they like to Paul get pollen from here? 

Joe Wilson: [00:46:33] So bumblebees are some of the biggest views we have in North America, and they are super fuzzy if they're like. Big yellow and black flying Teddy bear sort of things.

Um, they have a really low hum and so they can kind of be intimidating, but they're pretty docile. Uh, bumblebees are one of the few social bees that we have native to North America. So in the spring, the giant bumblebees, we see that look like they're an inch long. Those are the Queens. They've been hibernating all winter and they're going to start a new colony.

So they, right this time of year, they are going to be visiting flowers in our yard, collecting pollen and nectar. They nest underground and abandoned rodent burrows. And so they find a, uh, empty cavity underground that suits their needs. They bring that pollen and nectar in and lay some eggs. They actually sit on those eggs, like a bird would kind of have to incubate them.

And then that those eggs hatch, and those are the new worker bumblebees. So the queen from that point on stays underground, the workers go out and collect pollen and nectar to grow that colony of, to make more workers until the fall. Then instead of making workers, they make a bunch of new Queens, a bunch of new Queens, those Queens go out and hibernate and everyone else in the colony dies.

And so bumblebees are one that are really famous for being good buzz pollinators. They actually use bumblebees and some greenhouses for tomatoes because they do a really good job at pollinating tomatoes and blueberries and things. Uh, they're more common in the mountains than they are in the deserts, which is, which is not normal for bees.

Most bees live in the hot dry areas, but bumblebees are more common in the mountains. So, so Utah has a, a bunch of kinds of bumblebees and some of these bumblebees, including the ones we have in Utah in the last 40 years, their populations for some reason have dropped by like 90%. So some that used to be really common are now really rare, uh, from different diseases and other things like that.

Wyatt: [00:48:26] So bumblebees are, how do they, how do they support bumblebees in those tomato greenhouses.

Joe Wilson: [00:48:29]  So bumblebees, since they have a hive, they can kind of artificially manipulate it and get them to nest like a, in a box, a box with a hole in it. I actually did a YouTube video, not too long ago about how to make a bumblebee nest box.

I tried it in my yard and no bumblebees nested in it, but apparently some other people have had success, but so the, yeah, you can actually keep them in a lab or in a greenhouse setting and honeybees. For some reason, when you put a honeybee in a greenhouse, they kind of just bang their heads against the wall.

Like they don't like being in that confined space, but a bumblebee is less particular about it for some reason. So they'll work pretty hard in a greenhouse. Um, how many are in the hive? Uh, there's there's about, uh, how many species? 45 species in the U S and so it ranges from about 20 workers to several hundred workers.

Wyatt: [00:49:14] Um, so we only have a few minutes left, cause I know you have another meeting, but what, how did you start to study bugs and what led you to bees? 

Joe Wilson: [00:49:23] That's a good question. Um, So I always liked nature. I mean, in a bio that I send around, I say, when I was two years old, I told my dad, he asked what I wanted to be when I grow up.

And I don't remember this, this is, he told me my parents left kind of guy, the neck, the dots for us. Um, yeah, and I, I'm not a kind of a guy that remembers what I said when I was two. Um, I was two or three, but I said I wanted to be a lion when I grew up. And so I, they Al I was always into animals, like when we went to the.

The library. I would go to the field guide section and check out field guides, even as a little kid, but I grew up in kind of Provo Orem area and my field guides, you know, it was like, I liked mammals because they're soft and fuzzy. So I would look at all these squirrel pictures and raccoon pictures, but we don't have that kind of stuff in Provo and Orem.

You know, we don't have red squirrels and gray squirrels and flying squirrels. And so I always wanted one of the, one of the kind of defining moments of my life was I found this book at the library called how to build a backyard zoo. And it was telling how you can manipulate your landscape and your backyard to attract animals like birds and squirrels and frogs and stuff.

And I realized as I could ten-year-old that this was not written for Utah. You know, you can't put a pond in your backyard and suddenly have a bunch of frogs because Utah doesn't have that many kinds of frogs. Um, but I still spend a lot of time outside and in doing this. I realized the animals that I was mostly seeing were insects, insects, and their relatives, you know, scorpions and spiders and stuff like that.

And so I started learning about the insects because that's what I had in the backyard. So I was kind of a bug geek from a young age. But even then I thought I wanted to study something big, like Whoa, or bears all the way until I got to college. And what really, to me back to insects was I met a girl who was super cool and she had just returned back from her summer field job, studying bees in Southern Utah, the grand staircase national monument.

And so I started hanging out with her and, and all these stories about bees and, and, you know, I visited her at work and she was working up at the B lab up the Logan campus. So I started volunteering in the lab so I could spend time with her and she got me a job there. And then she graduated and we got married and then we both.

I then I started, I kind of took her place in the lab and I studied bees down in Southern Utah. So anyway, so it was, it was kind of a girl that got me back into, I mean, to, to realize that bugs were the we're still cool, but then as I got more into it, I realized that all the stuff I liked about other animals watching nature, documentaries, and stuff, you don't see the documentaries about bugs.

Usually see a lion chasing a gazelle or cool things like that. But you can see all that with bees and wasps, you know, the wasps or the herbivores, the, I mean, the wasps are the carnivores. The bees are the herbivores and there's really cool behaviors and hunting. And you know, it's like a nature documentary.

Uh, but it's almost like a hidden one. So I'm finding, it's like, it's like going to the jungle and finding a new animal, but the jungle is your backyard in Willa, Utah. Yeah. 

Wyatt: [00:52:28] So. So you kept the bees and that girl is out of the picture or she's my wife now. Oh, okay. That's even tougher. Sorry, I didn't 

Joe Wilson: [00:52:35] want to tell.

Yeah, she, she, so she, he started me with it's bees. We both, we actually, we both started working in the grand staircase that next summer she had just graduated. But through that summer, uh, I think we got engaged halfway through the field season and then got married in October. Uh, so yeah, we've been married now for 18 years almost, and we still spend every summer out cashing bees now with three kids. They're my field crew 

Wyatt: [00:53:03] now. That's awesome. Awesome. Um, so how were you and your wife, um, Making the best of this break that we're all in because of COVID-19. 

Joe Wilson: [00:53:12] Yeah. So the, we luckily, uh, my research and my play are the same. Like I'd like to go out and look for bugs and, you know, explore new areas. It's a little bit different because now with Utah state, we are not supposed to be doing any work-related travel.

And so I, I can't officially be going on my B outings, but we just got back from it. Two weeks down in St. George area. We brought our little camp trailer and camped in my in-law's driveway. So we could still social distance, but this prime be time and it was way warmer in St. George. And so we spent a couple of weeks down there and there's a bee that potentially is, is endangered.

It might be extinct in Utah and we were looking for it. Uh, so I spent a lot of early mornings cause it comes out like they break, spend a lot of early mornings looking for bees down there. So I'm the, the bee research is still moving forward, but, uh, just a little bit more slowly because limitations.

Wyatt: [00:54:12] That's awesome. Um, so before I let you go, my cousin, Jessie, who is a teacher in Seattle, so close to where these dangerous Hornets are, she wants to know, um, this is her question. What is a practical response? If you happen across one of these Asian giant Hornets, are they aggressive or should we just like exit the area?

Joe Wilson: [00:54:32] Yeah. So the they're, they're not aggressive by nature unless you're threatening their hive. Um, and even if you found a high, if you could just turn around and walk the other way, you know, um, just don't dig it up. Uh, The the best thing to do though, is to take a picture, even with your cell phone, they're two inches long.

So if you see something that you think might be it, take a picture. And, uh, most States, including Utah have through like Utah has it through the USU extension, we have people that identify bugs, or if you sent it to, I think in, in Washington, they have various hotlines. You can send the pictures to of the hundreds of pictures they've received so far.

None of them have been the Asian giant Hornet. Uh, and Washington actually just did put out another, uh, notice that said, had pictures of bumblebees and told people, please don't kill these. These are not the Asian giant Hornets. These are native bumblebees. Many of them are, uh, you know, threatened because their populations are declining.

So people are just seeing any big bug they see and thinking it's it. So taking a picture can reduce your own fears, but there there's no threat to people unless you are actively, you know, digging their nest up. 

Wyatt: [00:55:45] Okay. Um, and then one last question from an, uh, another friend friend named Dre, just like get accurate numbers on what they found with this horn.

I'm sorry. They found one hive in British Columbia that was destroyed. And how many individuals in Washington state. 

Joe Wilson: [00:55:59] So I've heard, I've heard different reports and. From what I could find from the Washington department of agriculture is that British Columbia found one hive that they destroyed. And then, uh, two dead individuals were found in Washington state across the border.

Um, there's actually, I can send you a link. Um, there's a link to this citing page and they they're putting dots on the map of where sightings have come in and if they're confirmed sightings or not. Um, and that's where I got the, the data that I just said, that there was, um, a bunch of people taking pictures of stuff.

That's not the Asian giant Hornet. Um, yeah. So there, as far as I know, unless there's been something in the last four days or something that two dead sightings in October and November, uh, in Washington state, nothing this spring, as far as I've heard, do you think that, 

Wyatt: [00:56:49] uh, the measures taking place in Washington state will be successful?

Joe Wilson: [00:56:54] You know, it's tricky. We, we don't know exactly how it was established. I mean, how it came to British Columbia in the first place or to Washington state things get moved all around the world all the time with shipping, um, accidentally. And so, because we know it got here once it is most likely going to get here again.

And so I think that they will be pretty successful. Um, But, you know, in 50 years it might not be surprising to go up to Washington state and see an Asian giant Hornet. And those local beekeepers will have adapted to that new pest. So I'm, I'm hopeful, uh, entomologists really try to get a handle on these things, but, uh, humans, despite all of our technology and all of our strengths, insects still beat us a lot.

Wyatt: [00:57:41] Awesome. That's why research is so important. And thank you, Jesse and Dre for the questions. If you have a question you want me to ask a researcher follow at instead podcast on Instagram, that's where I'll let you know who I'll be talking to next. And you can tell me what you want to ask them. So follow at instead podcast on Instagram and tell all your honey love and friends to give this episode a listen, because you learn so much from Dr.

Joe Wilson here. I'll remind you our meat, eating wasps, just aggressive jerks, kind of, but they control a lot of other pests. So we need them. The name murder Hornet it's clickbait nonsense. Yes. 50 giant Asian Hornets can wipe out a hive real quick, but they aren't that aggressive towards people. Just leave him alone.

And if you're allergic, you gotta do what you gotta do to have an epi pen on you. So if you're in Washington and you see a bug, you think might be a giant Asian Hornet snap, a picture, make sure it's not a bumblebee because they're cute and we need more of them. If you're in Utah. And you see a big bug.

You're not sure about, you can still take a picture. I'm just not sure where you should send it. We also learned that native bees not give us honey, but they can run circles around honey bees. So don't get distracted by people freaking out about honeybees. I mean, honey bees are important too. And finally we learned that research is important for protecting native species and managing agricultural species, but also to fight diseases in humans.

And in bees research is also an important part of the learning process. It makes you think things through and solve problems you're in college or on your way there. Remember to seek out opportunities where you can help people like Joe. And if you've lived near a statewide campus, talk to somebody about what kind of awesome classes and research experiences they have to offer.

And finally, let me know if a rogue piece of Pam will keep the wasps from bothering your picnic. If you've tried it send me a DM. This episode was edited by Nick Vasquez and me Wyatt Tropper is part of our work in the office of research at Utah university. .


The flying carnivore
Geography matters
Should we be worried about the bees?
A "magical" Utah bee
Homes for bees
A hidden nature documentary