Community Scientists Trained to Participate in Bumble Bee Atlas Project
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In mid-June about 16 pollinator enthusiasts gathered at N.C. Cooperative Extension’s Pollinator Paradise Garden in Pittsboro to receive training as community scientists for the Southeast Bumble Bee Atlas Project. There are currently eight different Bumble Bee Atlas projects covering 15 states throughout the U.S. All are managed by The Xerces Society.
The Southeast Bumble Bee Atlas project launched earlier this year with the goal of gathering data to track and conserve bumble bees in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. Throughout North America, 25% of the approximately 50 species of bumble bees are experiencing serious population declines. In North Carolina we have 15 species of bumble bees and about half of those species are facing some degree of threat. This is very concerning as bumble bees are very important pollinators both of our natural areas and our food crops.
Volunteer community scientists are recruited for the project to help collect data about the bees and their habitat. No bees are harmed during the data collection – they are captured with a net, placed in a plastic vial in a cooler to chill which slows them down enough to be able to take a few pictures, then released. The photos are uploaded to the Bumble Bee Watch website along with a habitat assessment form. Experts examine the photos and identify the bee species which is entered into the database. The more volunteers out there tracking bees, the more data is collected over a wide geographic region. This data helps conservation biologists, habitat restoration practitioners, and policy makers in their efforts to conserve bumble bees.
The data collection season for the Southeast Bumble Bee Atlas runs through the end of September. If you are interested in participating you can watch training videos on the Atlas website and then sign up to adopt a grid cell. Anyone can become a community scientist and help with the Bumble Bee Atlas…no experience is required! Visit the Southeast Bumble Bee Atlas website for complete details.