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Volunteers Track Native Bumble Bees

More than 200 volunteers from Oregon, Washington, and Idaho and searching for native bumble bees. It's part of the Pacific NorthWest Bumble Bee Atlas project.

Posted: Jun 21, 2018 6:39 PM

ASHLAND, Ore. -- More than 200 volunteers from Oregon, Washington, and Idaho and searching for native bumble bees. It's part of the Pacific Northwest Bumble Bee Atlas project. 

A local volunteer, Pepper Trail, has been tracking bumble bees for five years. 

"Bumble bees are among our most important pollinators," says Trail. 

This year the Xerces Society introduced a project to track the 25 bumble bee species native to the Pacific Northwest. Four species are rapidly declining. One species, the Franklins Bumble Bee, was last seen in 2006 on Mt. Ashland. 

"We've been looking and we still have not found anymore. We're fearful that species might be lost," says Trail. 

As a volunteer, Trail is assigned an area to survey. He uses a jar to capture the bumble bee, photographs it, writes down the location it was found, and describes the habitat. All of this data is then turned over to the experts. 

"They're all kinda fuzzy and black and yellow, so it's not the easiest thing to identify," says Trail. 

Bumble bees are most active from June to September. Each volunteer must complete two surveys during that time. Trail says each survey takes 45 minutes. When you factor in things like logging data, paperwork, and travel it could be four hours total. 

"It's a significant commitment, but its great to know your information is getting into a scientific database," says Trail. 

The Pacific Northwest Bumble Bee Atlas project is open-ended. They hope to continue it for years to come. 

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