Citizen Scientists Asked to Document Bumble Bees in Ohio

Bombus affinis [USGS Bee Lab]
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A project to document an endangered bee species needs the help of citizen scientists.  The Ohio Bee Atlas is asking people to take pictures of bumble bees around the state, then upload the photo and say where it was taken.  Scientists are looking for the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee, which the US Fish and Wildlife Service recently listed as an endangered species. 

Dr. Randy Mitchell is a biology professor with the University of Akron.  He says it’s unclear if the once populous bumble bee still exists in Ohio and if it’s possible to save them.

“Once we figure out which bees are where, we can then try to figure out whether there’s something special about those areas that’s helping them to survive and whether we can help that to happen in other places.” says Mitchell, who appeared on the WVIZ/PBS show “ideas,”  He says the bumble bees are tame and will leave people alone so long as they’re not near their colony. 

Scientists believe a combination of habitat loss, parasites, pesticides, and climate change caused the Rusty Patched bumble bee population to decline.  

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