CU Boul­der col­lec­tion of­fers a hive of in­for­ma­tion on world of bees

The Denver Post - - ROUNDUP -

BOUL­DER» Like many peo­ple in Boul­der County, Vir­ginia Scott loves bees. But she sure has a funny way of show­ing it.

“One of the first things I do is kill ... stuff,” Scott said mat­ter-of-factly, as she re­cently guided a vis­i­tor through the Univer­sity of Colorado Museum of Nat­u­ral His­tory’s vo­lu­mi­nous En­to­mol­ogy Col­lec­tion. It in­cludes spec­i­mens rep­re­sent­ing most of the 946 known bee species found in the state.

“It seems less mor­bid, when you work in an in­sect col­lec­tion, be­cause most peo­ple go around killing bugs all the time any­way,” said Scott, who has been En­to­mol­ogy Col­lec­tion man­ager at the museum since 1994.

Her killing ways are a nec­es­sary act of preser­va­tion for the bees, plus ev­ery other in­sect and arach­nid that make up the En­to­mol­ogy Col­lec­tion, num­ber­ing some 800,000 spec­i­mens from around the world. To be pre­served in the col­lec­tion, life­less spec­i­mens are mounted on a pin and la­beled by species.

Ac­cord­ingly, Scott pre­sides over some­thing more closely re­sem­bling a mor­tu­ary than a zoo.

“We can’t iden­tify them if we don’t have them dead on a pin,” she rea­soned.

The hon­ey­bee en­joys some­thing ap­proach­ing celebrity sta­tus in the lo­cal in­sect world, with the Boul­der City Coun­cil in 2015 pass­ing a res­o­lu­tion to make it a bee-safe com­mu­nity, and due to in­creas­ing aware­ness around the phe­nom­e­non of colony col­lapse.

But the hon­ey­bee is just one of at least 562 bee species found in Boul­der County and nearly 1,000 that have been iden­ti­fied statewide.

And, as a non-na­tive species, the hon­ey­bee is not the bee that most in­ter­ests Scott. She likens its place in our ecosys­tem to that of a cow or chicken. “We need our hon­ey­bees for our agri­cul­ture, be­cause of how we de­signed our agri­cul­ture. If you’re a honey producer, you gotta have hon­ey­bees.

“But I think some­times, that’s all peo­ple know.”

— Char­lie Bren­nan, Daily Cam­era

Paul Aiken, Daily Cam­era

Vir­ginia Scott with a tray of Bom­bus mor­risoni, a bum­ble­bee na­tive to west­ern North Amer­ica.

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