Planet PhD

Gigi Hennessy: Ouch! All about the ivy bee…

December 2, 2019

Today Veronica interviews the one and only Gigi Hennessy, Planet PhD co-host, about her newly published research! Gigi’s new paper investigates the stinging risk and sting pain of the ivy bee, Colletes hederae, a relatively new member of the UK solitary bee fauna (also known in our lab as the ‘Marilyn Monroe bee’).

Ivy bees first came to the south of the UK in 2001, and have been spreading. Since they arrived, pest control officials have had repeated calls from people with ivy bees in their gardens. This little solitary bee can nest in large aggregations, with several bees flying close to the ground when they start to emerge in September… “the lawn looked like it was moving” was one comment. But does the ivy bee sting, is the sting painful, and is the bee a risk to the public – should we be calling the exterminator?

Tune in to hear about a slightly ‘out there’ methodology, the surprisingly fertile world of insect bite and sting pain research, and some important take home messages for bee conservation. We also discuss Gigi’s recent experience of the dark side of Twitter, and she gives us her tips for any researchers in similar situations.

 The paper is available here, or get in touch with Gigi with any questions and for a pdf version.

Disclaimer: do not tell your children to run around in barefoot in ivy bee aggregations. Which, by the way, the authors of the paper didn’t ever say.