According to Oneida County pollinator coordinator Baerbel Ehrig, we are entering the perfect time of year for bumblebee sightings. With the current weather and the blooming stage of flowers, bumblebee activity is very high, she said.
Bumblebees are important pollinators, but face many challenges in the wild, including colony collapse. Colony collapse disorder is a largely unexplained phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees disappear, leaving behind few nurse bees to care for the immature bees as well as a queen. Bee populations are also in danger from pesticide use. One bee native to our area, the rusty-patch bumblebee, has even recently been put on the endangered species list. According to the Xerces Society, 28 percent of all North American bumblebees are facing some degree of risk of extinction.
The first step in conserving North America's bumblebees is to find where they currently live. Bumblebee Watch is a way for citizen scientists to get involved in recording and tracking their bumble bee sightings. Citizen scientists can upload their own bumblebee photos and have identification of those bees verified by experts. All of the information gathered on the website www.bumblebeewatch.org is used to help researchers determine the status and conservation needs of bumblebees as well as to locate rare or endangered populations. Citizen scientists can learn about bumblebees as well as conservation efforts and connect with other like-minded citizen scientists on the website through the project. Citizen scientists can even learn about creating habitat for bumble bees. More information on that can be found on the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation website as www.xerces.org/bumblebees.
Those interested in participating and helping the plight of these native pollinators can quickly and easily create an account on the Bumblebee Watch website. From there, citizen scientists can simply go out into their own garden, yard or a nearby park and look around at blooming flowers. Take photos of any bees present and submit the data to the website using the Bumblebee Sightings form. Getting involved in a fun and easy way to learn more about bumblebees and to help conserve their populations.
Bumblebee Watch can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.
Beckie Gaskill may be reached via email at email@example.com.
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