The best time of year is here—the season of barbecues and bike rides and staying up late to watch the sunset. Summer is in full swing, and that means you’ll be hosting lots of unique, interesting guests in your bee block as the season continues. With so many visitors, it can be hard to even know what you should be looking for, but thankfully there is an online resource with lots of information at your disposal to help you put a name to a face. BugGuide is useful in that it has an extensive photo gallery you can use to look up what you’ve spotted or just to familiarize yourself with the swarm of species. Most importantly, if you’re really stumped you can register an account and submit your own photos for a scientist to identify. Additionally it features a phylogeny, otherwise known as a “family tree” which demonstrates evolutionary relationships between species, and also taxonomic information, which tells you what people have named it in the past. Multiple scientists identify which critter is in what photo, but the best identifications are done by John S. Ascher.
Bees are very photogenic creatures. You’ve probably seen more than your fair share of supermodels in your backyard already, so feel free to contribute your photos to the site and help other citizen scientists! The longest day of the year is only eight days away, so use the extra daylight to get to know your guests.