Webinar: Using Community Science to Conserve Bumble Bees

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American bumble bee (Bombus pensylvanicus) on wild indigo.

American bumble bee (Bombus pensylvanicus) on wild indigo. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Many of us are looking for meaningful activities that we can do while staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are also seeking out ways to connect with others (from a safe distance!) and perhaps even yearning for a nice distraction that provides a respite from the news.

Given that many of us are temporarily restricted from doing some of our favorite activities, I thought this would be an excellent time to get folks excited about citizen science, with a focus that is near and dear to my heart: bumble bees! It just so happens that April is Citizen Science Month, so this is a great time to explore how we can use our curiosity and love for bumble bees to acquire new skills and knowledge and work together towards a common goal. Science is based on observation, and scientists can’t be everywhere. The contributions of citizen (community) scientists can help in research and conservation efforts. Would you like to become one of those community scientists?

Bumble Bee Watch is a community science project that tracks North America’s bumble bees in an effort to conserve them. This project allows individuals to:

  • Upload photos of bumble bees to start a virtual bumble bee collection;
  • Identify the bumble bees in your photos and have your identifications verified by experts;
  • Help researchers determine the status and conservation needs of bumble bees;
  • Help locate rare or endangered populations of bumble bees;
  • Learn about bumble bees, their ecology, and ongoing conservation efforts; and
  • Connect with other community scientists.

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Chatham County Center will offer a webinar on Using Community Science to Conserve Bumble Bees on Thursday, April 30, 2020, from 4–5:30 p.m EST.

Register online

We will learn all about Bumble Bee Watch and how community scientists can engage with this project to learn more about bumble bees and aid in their conservation. We will also learn what individuals can do to help bumble bees in their own community. No prior knowledge of bumble bees or entomology is required. The only prerequisite is curiosity and an interest in being outdoors and observing bees and flowers!

Presenters include Rich Hatfield, Senior Conservation Biologist with the Xerces Society, and Debbie Roos, Sustainable Agriculture Agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension of Chatham County. Speaker bios are included below.


Bumble Bees in the U.S.

  • Number of species
  • Role as pollinators
  • Threats to bumble bees
  • Bumble bee life cycle and implications for conservation

Background/History of Bumble Bee Watch

Basics of Bumble Bee Anatomy

Tips for Photographing Bees for ID

Tour of Bumble Bee Watch Website

How to Submit a Sighting of a Bee or Nest to Bumble Bee Watch

What You Can Do to Help Bumble Bees


This webinar is free but pre-registration is required. As long as you have Internet access you won’t even have to leave home to attend this training.

Register online

Registrants will receive an email before the webinar with details about how to log on.

If you have any questions about this webinar contact Debbie Roos.

Speaker Bios:

Rich Hatfield manages all aspects of the Xerces Society’s work on bumble bees. Rich has a master’s degree in conservation biology from San Francisco State University, and he joined the Xerces Society in 2012. While earning his degree, his thesis focused on local- and landscape-level factors that contribute to bumble bee species richness and abundance. He has also investigated native bee pollination in agricultural systems in the Central Valley of California and researched endangered butterflies in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, as well as throughout the Pacific Northwest. In addition to his skills as a research biologist, Rich also has extensive classroom teaching experience with a focus on conservation biology, ecology, and sustainability.

Since 1999 Debbie Roos has been an Agriculture Agent for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension of Chatham County where she is responsible for programming in the areas of commercial vegetable production, organic production, pollinator conservation, beekeeping, alternative agricultural enterprises, and forestry. Debbie worked for three years as an agroforestry Extension agent and technical trainer for the Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa, and later completed graduate degrees in applied anthropology and horticulture at the University of Florida. Debbie is passionate about pollinator conservation and has planted demonstration habitats and developed resources to teach others about the importance of bees and other pollinators to our agriculture ecosystem. In 2019 Debbie received the North Carolina Wildlife Federation’s Wildlife Conservationist of the Year award. Visit her pollinator website.

NC State University and N.C. A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity and prohibit discrimination and harassment regardless of age, color, disability, family and marital status, genetic information, national origin, political beliefs, race, religion, sexual identity (including pregnancy), and veteran status. NC State University, N.C. A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating. Persons with disabilities and persons with limited English proficiency may request accommodations to participate by contacting Ginger Cunningham, County Extension Director, at 919.542.8202, ginger_cunningham@ncsu.edu, or in person at the County Extension Office at least 30 days prior to the event.