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Old 07-12-2012, 11:36 PM   #1
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Google for bees? Automated bee identification

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Frustrated by the slow pace of getting bees identified by specialists – there are just a handful of experts here in North America who are capable of reliably identifying our bees – a couple of years ago, I (Claudio) approached some colleagues
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To make a long a story short, several students, including MS student Chris Hall, thought this was interesting enough and eventually develop a series of computer algorithms to first extract features from bee wings based on venation patterns and then classify the bees into groups, i.e., species.
Chris completed his Master’s degree on this project last fall and is now at Sandia National Labs. For more on this project and where we hope to take it check our their cool video they put together explaining their project:


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Old 07-13-2012, 07:17 AM   #2
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Very cool find, Gloria.

For now, I'll keep using our own "suunto for bee IDs"...and other insects too.
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:23 AM   #3
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A good start, but there are limitations to this technique, as there are some species that are separable only by microscopic examination.
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:25 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by dapjwy View Post
For now, I'll keep using our own "suunto for bee IDs"...and other insects too.
Just remember, he doesn't know everything, even if he seems to think he does... ;-)
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:33 AM   #5
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Just remember, he doesn't know everything, even if he seems to think he does... ;-)
I had a feeling you might say something like that. You have always been honest about your limitations--stating you can only narrow it down so far (especially based on only a photo).

Your skill and expertise is very valued here on WG. ...and so is your kindness, sense of humor, and the like.

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A good start, but there are limitations to this technique, as there are some species that are separable only by microscopic examination.

See...your expertise is showing again. ;-)
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Old 07-13-2012, 11:11 AM   #6
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A good start, but there are limitations to this technique, as there are some species that are separable only by microscopic examination.
This sort of programing may at least give us a few more young people studing the bee species and becoming experts in turn. At Beespotters mostly students are doing the ID from pictures of bumbles and honey bees but the solitary bees take a much closer look than a camera in the hands of amatures can supply. I would find it helpful though to have some sort of recognition tool at hand.
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Old 07-14-2012, 09:51 PM   #7
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It is interesting that they are using wing venation. I don't think many of my usual bee photos have sufficient wing venation to be useful. I am assuming from their choice that wing venation must be fairly species specific while other characteristics are not.

Right now, your cell phone can snap a photo of an object for sale in a store and identify it with remarkable specificity and sensitivity. Someday we will get there for nature. I actually think they will come up with in the field DNA scanners to ID species before something like wing vein patterns photos will be practical. They are aggressively trying to develop the DNA technology for a whole bunch of reasons involving trafficking of animal species, monitoring of endangered species, field identification of all sorts of species for many kinds of scientific research. The technology will come.
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