Since March 2017, three NUS High School students have been working with bee specimens in the Insect Diversity Lab as part of their fifth year group project where they undertake some scientific research to get a taste of academia. After learning some basic skills in and out of the lab (microscopy, netting, etc.), they began collecting important data for Singapore bee diversity: the bee’s intertegular distance (ITD), i.e. the distance between the two wing bases. This measurement has been noted to be a reliable and convenient estimator of size in bees relative to other proxies such as dry weight, head width, or body length (Cane, 1987).
After we visited LIPI at Bogor, we headed to the nearby mountains at Cibodas — Gunung Gede and Mt. Pangrango — for two days. On the agenda: hike, watch birds, and also observe and photograph the floral associations and behaviour of bees.
West Java has one of the richest and best studied bee fauna of Southeast Asia, but little is known about the current status of many species. As far back as the 1950s, the famous melittologist Maurits Ann Lieftinck raised concerns about the loss of forest-associated species. Deforestation must have drastically decreased available bee habitat since Lieftinck’s time, but fortunately, areas of preserved forest remain, and endemic biota can still be found. The volcano Gunung Gede is one of the best remaining sites.
From 24-30 September, John Ascher, Shao Xiong, and Benjamin travelled to West Java, Indonesia to study bee and wasps. From our base in Bogor, we visited the national insect collection at LIPI (the Indonesian Institute of Sciences), on the invitation of our host Dr. Sih Kahono, a primary supervisor at the Center for Biological Research at LIPI, and a researcher on stingless bee ecology.
Our lab’s FYP students for AY 2016/2017 have successfully concluded their poster presentations today. They showcased their projects on bees, wasps, and ants to their examiners, fellow students, and other members of the public.
Our research was featured today in an article titled ‘Global data for declining bees’ by the National University of Singapore’s Faculty of Science. Here’s an excerpt:
“In response to bee declines threatening ecosystems and food security, Prof John ASCHER from the Department of Biological Sciences, NUS with help from a global network of bee taxonomic specialists is completing the first comprehensive checklist of valid bee species and their distributions. He is working with the Integrative Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) of the US government to make a global update to the World Bee Checklist. He works with Prof John PICKERING of the biodiversity portal “Discover Life” to integrate bee data online on the species pages. NUS students and regional collaborators across East Asia are completing the first comprehensive monographs on bees from this neglected region.”
You can read the rest of the article here.