Bees are pretty unique in that they are almost completely dependent on flowers to survive and reproduce, and a major part of the latter is due to pollen. Most bees provision pollen for their young and by sampling the pollen they carry we can gain a better understanding of the types of plants they use and the species most important to developing young. To help identify that pollen, we collect samples in the field and build a reference pollen collection to compare to samples back in the lab.
I am a Postdoctoral Associate at CU-Boulder and have lead a number of projects studying patterns of native bee diversity in Colorado. Please enjoy your visit and contact me if you have any questions.