CU Boulder collection offers a hive of information on world of bees
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
Virginia Scott with a tray of Bombus morrisoni, a bumblebee native to western North America.