Yes, it’s true that Audubon is all about birds. But even the most obsessive birders occasionally look at other creatures — like bees!
If you enjoy seeing bees, you can contribute to the online Ohio Bee Atlas. The atlas is a new statewide citizen science project initiated through iNaturalist by the cooperative efforts of land conservation organizations and local universities in northeast Ohio. The Ohio Bee Atlas was primarily established to document the distribution and identity of Ohio’s bumblebees in response to the recent listing of the Rusty Patched Bumblebee (Bombus affinis) as a federally endangered species.
Ohio’s bees, and especially bumblebees, are important to human activity as well as wild ecosystems. Our native bumblebees are important crop pollinators, and they are necessary for native wildflower reproduction, too. Moreover, pollination by bees helps to create seeds and fruits that feed wildlife.
The Rusty Patched Bumblebee was once common throughout Ohio, occupying a variety of habitats including prairies, woodlands, marshes, agricultural landscapes, and residential parks and gardens. Disease, pesticides, the effects of climate change, habitat loss, and the effects of small population dynamics have all contributed to the dramatic decline of this species which is now in danger of becoming extinct.
Contribute to science! Help to create the Ohio Bee Atlas by submitting your photo observations of all bees on the project Web site. Or for more information, visit the Ohio Bee Atlas home page.
To learn more about the Rusty Patched Bumblebee, check out the species page on the USFWS Web site.