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This article was published 19/5/2018 (1508 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It’s the bee’s knees that a University of Manitoba professor has a bee named after him.
Jason Gibbs, an assistant professor of entomology, said he was surprised when he recently learned a bee he collected in Spruce Woods Provincial Park last summer has been named Epeolus gibbsi, after him.
"It was a pretty big surprise," Gibbs said Friday. "I’ve been doing this for 12 or 13 years, and I’ve named something after other people, but I’ve never had anything named after me."
Gibbs said he and his wife, Yuko Nozoe, would have snared the bee while looking for bugs at the Spirit Sands area of the park, between the parking lot and the sand dunes.
He said the bee is almost all black, with two white dots and a band of white hairs on its back, and is about the size of a housefly. It has a slender waist.
"You probably would have thought it was a wasp," Gibbs said. "Some people mistake them for flies. Not all bees look like bees."
Gibbs said when he compared the bee to ones collected at the J.B. Wallis-RE Roughley Museum of Entomology, of which he is the curator, he couldn’t find any that matched.
That’s when Gibbs sent the bee to an expert, Tom Onuferko, at York University in Toronto. Onuferko was the one who later named the bee in his honour.
Gibbs said his bee is not the type that collects honey. It isn’t even the type that grows its own progeny in nests.
"It is a cuckoo bee," he said, explaining that it tricks other bees into raising its young by sneaking its eggs into the other bees’ nests.
Gibbs said he’s not stung that a bee which indulges in parasitic activity bears his name.
"I think about all the times I bummed car rides as a graduate student, and it seems pretty suiting," he said with a laugh.
Gibbs estimates there are from 350 to 400 species of bees in Manitoba, with 20,000 known around the world. "Globally, there are nine types of honeybees, so you can see they are in the minority," he said.
He said he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to find other Epeolus gibbsi at the park this summer, but he will try.
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.