Women in Science: If You Love Pumpkin Pie, Thank a Bee!

Women in Science, NC State, This is what a scientist looks like

Do you love to eat? Thank a bee!

This post was written by April Hamblin, an entomology graduate student at NC State.

When I was a kid I spend most of my time reading fiction. I loved thinking about fantasy worlds and imaginary creatures. I read so many books, my mom literally had to force me to go outside. This seems odd because most entomologists and ecologists I know always talk about frolicking outside as kids, but that was not the case for me.

Although books were my go to, once I explored the world outside, I found a fantasy world of my own full of plants, animals, and insects. After falling in love with the natural environment, I studied environmental sciences as an undergraduate. I wanted to stand up for the animals that people did not like or did not understand, which led me to insects. I soon realized I wanted to study an insect I could stand up for; this led me to study the amazing native bees.

On Thanksgiving, I like to thank bees for their pollination services. Have you ever thought about what actually happened to the food in front of you before it was food?

If you love pumpkin pie, you may want to thank the Squash Bee (Peponapis pruinosa) for pollinating squash. If you are more of a blueberry cobbler kind of person, you should thank the Southeastern Blueberry Bee (Habropoda laboriosa). And, if you just adore apple strudel, you would want to applaud the Blue Orchard Bee (Osmia lignaria) for all her hard work. While Honey Bees (Apis mellifera) are the most common bee managed for agriculture, native bees must also be commended for their work, especially in urban areas like your backyard.

As a graduate student at NC State in Dr. Steven Frank’s lab, I study these native bees in urban areas like the city of Raleigh. I am trying to understand how temperature influences the native bee population. Cities and other urban areas have hotter temperatures than the natural surrounding areas around them. This is called the urban heat island effect.

As a scientist, I ask questions. How do individual bees of different species respond to temperature changes? How do other factors of the urban environment (like the number of flowers or the amount of cement) influence native bees? I use research as a tool to answer these questions.

So far, I have collected 85 species of bee from the city of Raleigh. While that may sound like a lot, there are over 500 species of native bees in North Carolina! I just started my second field season collecting bees, so will hopefully be able to answer the questions above with more information.

If you are interested in learning more about how to help the native bees in your back yard, I am hosting a Pollinator Garden Workshop with my friends and post-docs of my lab, Dr. Elsa Youngsteadt and Dr. Margarita López-Uribe.

You may be thinking, what in the world would lead someone to study insects? Let me tell you.

Although I spend most of my time researching native bees, I also find time for myself. I love teaching anyone who will listen about native bees and other aspects of science. I also love learning new topics, reading the Bible, dancing to good music, and washing dishes.

Thanks, as always to NC State for letting us share these wonderful stories about women in science.  Stay tuned next week to be introduced to another science role model for girls!

Why I Wrote “Trumping And Drinking”
Get Over Yourselves. We’re All Rory Gilmore
Hillary Clinton, Shake It Off, Taylor Swift, Hillary Clinton Campaign song
Six Reasons “Shake It Off” Should Be Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Theme Song
Nancy Reagan dies, Just Say No, Ronald Reagan
A Not-So-Positive Ode to Nancy Reagan’s Frothy “Just Say No” Campaign
I Married for Health Insurance
Why I Wrote “Trumping And Drinking”
A Case of Nixonian Deja Vu
Post-Election Munchies: What is Your Grief Snack of Choice?
Why I Wrote “Trumping And Drinking”
A Case of Nixonian Deja Vu
Trump Reality Check, Now with Actual Facts!
Fascism Facts
I Married for Health Insurance
Get Over Yourselves. We’re All Rory Gilmore
Post-Election Munchies: What is Your Grief Snack of Choice?
Women’s Elections Rights in Saudi Arabia: A Token Drop in an Abysmal Bucket & the Plight of Women Under Sharia Law
Maybe It Wasn’t Rape: Emerging Matriarchy and the Altering of Women’s Past Sexual Narratives
Paris attacks, Paris terrorism
Is Paris Burning?
Chinese government and women's reproductive rights, adopting Chinese girls, international adoption
Dear Xi Jinping, I Am Writing to You as an American Mom of a 19-Year-Old Chinese Daughter
The Vital Voice of Hillary Clinton: Part 1
Maybe It Wasn’t Rape: Emerging Matriarchy and the Altering of Women’s Past Sexual Narratives
The Eyes Have It!
Ashley Madison, Jared Fogle, sex, rape, sexual affairs
Ashley Madison vs. Jared Fogle: Rape, Sex and Hacking in America
women's viagra, Viagra, Flibanserin, sexual arousal, women's desire, sex after menopause
That “Little Pink Pill” Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Get our new weekly email
Broadly Speaking

featuring our best words for the week + an exclusive longread