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Biodiversity Blog


UT Spring Bee Competition: We have a winner!

BEE 01
Photo: Paige Durant

The UT Spring Bee Competition has a winner! Paige Durant (class of '22) takes the prize of a pre-made Osmia mason bee house. Launched in January of this year, the contest rules are that anyone in the UT College of Natural Science community (staff, students, faculty) be the first to submit a 2022 photo of a Travis County mason bee. Osmia bees are solitary, robust metallic blue/green bees that provision mud nests with pollen to raise their offspring, and they are among the first seasonally-active spring insects around Austin.

Paige heard about the contest through the Texas EEB (Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior) Club's group chat. With a slow winddown for this year's winter causing plants to bloom a bit later than normal, Paige kept an eye open while out for exercising or walking between classes.

"Originally, I was looking around for swamp privets as they were one of the few flowers in bloom," she says. "Around them, I found a lot of honey bees and hover flies, but no mason bees. I thought looking around swamp privets would be the best strategy until I found something else flowering."

BEE 02
 Photo: Paige Durant

That search for other springtime flowers on the way to class would eventually lead Paige to the McCombs School of Business. "I happened to notice some iridescent insects flying around a barberry,"she says, and went to investigate. "I didn't want to get my hopes up yet since some flies and beetles are iridescent as well. After getting a closer look, I was so happy to see that they were indeed mason bees!"

Texas EBB plans to use the mason bee house and give it the playfully-appropriate nickname: the "EE Bee House."

Paige is majoring in computational biology. Before going to graduate school, she plants to take a gap year to study biology, ecology, evolution or a related subject.

Congrats, Paige, and may the Texas EBB enjoy many years of watching mason bees build homes in your new prize!

To learn more about this contest, visit this blog.

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