Mason bees in the subgenus Osmia emerged sometime before the ice-age, likely in Europe and Asia, but they radiated into North America early on in their history, resulting in one of the most beloved solitary bees, the blue orchard bee. In this episode, we dive into the evolutionary history of this subgenus.
Michael Branstetter is a Research Entomologist with the USDA, ARS, Pollinating Insects Research Unit in Logan, UT. He specializes in the molecular systematics and taxonomy of bees. Using molecular data, his lab strives to understand the diversity and evolution of bees both within the U.S.A. and globally, and to use that information to improve bee conservation and management, especially in agricultural settings. He also tries to develop new methods and databases that reduce the taxonomic impediment and make it easier for non-specialists to identify bees.