Today we wanted to take a quick minute out of the holiday season to highlight something that the Bumble Bee Recovery Team has been so grateful for in our quest to protect and recover bumble bees in Canada—Bumble Bee Watch! Our efforts to conserve Canada’s bumble bees are in vain without help from our volunteer citizen scientists across the country. As such, a lot of the work that we do involves continuously developing and improving our bumble bee citizen science programs. Bumble bees offer up a unique opportunity to engage citizen scientists in population monitoring because they can often be identified to species from photos, and this has enabled us to design citizen science programs centred around BumbleBeeWatch.org! We thought today would be a great day to finally show you all a bit more about the amazing Bumble Bee Watch platform we keep talking about!
Launched in 2014, Bumble Bee Watch is an interactive citizen science platform designed to track and conserve North America’s bumble bees. Now with apps for both iOS and Android, users can easily upload their bumble bee photos and use the region-specific identification tools embedded in the software to identify their bumble bee observation to species. Their submission is then verified by regional experts and the record becomes part of an ever-growing database that is a valuable tool for bumble bee conservation and research efforts across North America.
If you haven’t submitted an observation to Bumble Bee Watch before, check out this video! Once you’ve uploaded a photo, you will answer questions about the Face, Thorax, and Abdomen! If you don’t know the answer, you can select Not Sure. Once you’ve answered the questions, you will be given a list of options that match your choices. Choose the best fit to submit your observation!
Bumble Bee Watch is gaining support year after year! Nearly 35,000 individual bumble bee records have been submitted, with records from every state, province, and territory. There are expert-verified records for almost all 46 North American species, and these records have a proven ability to help locate rare species.
It’s no secret that as researchers, our time and resources are limited, and Bumble Bee Watch has vastly increased the amount of information we are able to accumulate each bumble bee season. Citizen Scientists are helping researchers across North America, like those working for our Bumble Bee Recovery program, tackle important questions in bumble bee ecology. Personnel resources are a huge limiting factor in any research program, and we believe that our citizen science programs are positively impacting the availability of usable bumble bee data by engaging citizens and promoting the platform across the country.
We want to thank each and every one of the citizen scientists that contribute valuable data to Bumble Bee Watch, and the expert verifiers across North America that spend countless hours verifying submissions. If you’re interested in participating in one of our formal citizen science programs, stay tuned for more information about our locations and programs for 2019! And, we certainly hope you take a minute to check out Bumble Bee Watch and see what all of us here at the Bumble Bee Recovery Team are always raving about!
– The Bumble Bee Recovery Program