I have been working with Professor Karen Kapheim ever since I started working as a scientific illustrator, and I always enjoy working with her because it gives me a chance to paint bees. I have a big appreciation for bees, especially native bees. Often when we think about bees, we picture big hives or honeycomb. But did you know that there are bees that build underground burrows?
Dr. Kapheim's recent work focuses on alkali bees (Nomia melanderi), which create underground tunnel networks in the mud for their eggs. For her lab's latest paper, I created a watercolor illustration to show the nesting bees and explain different aspects of the experimental design. Using artwork to show the experiment in a natural setting gives a better overall understanding of the science than a simple diagram or description would. Congratulations to the bee team on their latest findings!
Kapheim, K.M., Johnson, M.M. & Jolley, M. Composition and acquisition of the microbiome in solitary, ground-nesting alkali bees, Scientific Reports 2021