|We are excited to announce that the Xerces Society and regional partners are launching the Southeast Bumble Bee Atlas (SEBBA) in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee this spring! Our first training workshops start April 19th, with surveys beginning in early May!
What is a Bumble Bee Atlas? Atlas projects are aimed at gathering a clear snapshot of a group of organisms at a moment in time. They provide conservation practitioners and land managers with the data they need to make informed decisions that benefit species that need it. In our Atlas, we will train a group of community (aka citizen) scientists, like yourself, to spread out across our region to survey for bumble bees and report back with whatever they find! We offer online and in-person workshops to provide you with all of the necessary skills, knowledge, and confidence you’ll need to conduct your own bumble bee surveys as a community scientist. Survey methods are catch-and-release, so no bees are harmed. The SEBBA follows on the heels of our other successful Atlas projects as part of a growing nationwide effort to monitor bumble bees and inform conservation efforts.
Why focus on bumble bees? Bumble bees are familiar and essential pollinators in our gardens, farms, and natural areas. They play an incredibly important role in sustaining the health of our environment by pollinating flowers in natural and urban areas, and by contributing to successful harvests on farms. The southeastern US is home to over 15 bumble bee species, but unfortunately many of them face an uncertain future. At least six species are listed as threatened by extinction according to the IUCN Red List, and several of these are being considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act. The rusty patched bumble bee, native to our region, was the first bumble bee added to the endangered species list, and its status in our region remains unresolved.
Why is the SEBBA valuable? Generally speaking, there are many unknowns surrounding the distribution and habitat preferences of southeastern bumble bees, making conservation directives difficult. A comprehensive, and systematic survey effort is the only way to close these information gaps. This is where you come in! The SEBBA is looking for community scientists to conduct bumble bee surveys throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. No prior bee sampling experience is required, and no bees are harmed. You just need an insect net, a camera, vials or jars, transportation to your chosen study site, and – most importantly – an interest in hands-on conservation!
How can I participate? We are working behind the scenes to develop priorities, plan events, and update our websites. In the meantime, you can sign up to receive updates about the SEBBA on our landing page. In order to conduct surveys, all participants are required to watch or attend a training workshop, either online or at one of our four in-person workshops listed on our events page. You can also keep up with project updates by following along on Instagram (@bumblebeeatlas), Facebook (@bumblebeeatlas), and Twitter (@bumblebeeatlas).