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Nearby Nature: Where Are The Bumblebees?

With all this extra time close to home, it’s a great excuse to explore nearby nature. Strolling around the block, or even peeking at your potted plants outside, it’s hard not to notice how all this rain and sun is making plants burst in abundance this spring. Where blooms are, bees are quick to follow, right?

Actually, this may no longer be a rhetorical question. In recent years, people in different parts of the world have noticed a distinct lack of insects in places where they had been the norm.

In Germany, residents concerned with their surprisingly insect-free windshields, took up the charge and counted local insect populations. They documented a more than 75% decline from rates thirty years earlierThe recognized extirpation (local extinction) of Crotch BumblebeesBombus crotchii, in California’s Central Valley, has led to its petition to be included as an endangered species in California.

In San Diego County, folks have expressed concern over a lack of buzzing in the outdoor areas they frequent. Working at The Nat, it’s not uncommon to be asked: “Where are all the bumblebees?”

This is a great question, and we need more information before we can answer it.

We need your help documenting the five species of bumblebee regularly found in San Diego County: the Yellow-faced Bumblebee (Bombus vosnesenskii)Sonoran Bumblebee (Bombus sonorus)Black-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus melanopygus)California Bumblebee (Bombus californicus)and Crotch's Bumblebee (Bombus crotchii)We need to know where they are being spotted, and how many are being seen.

Here’s what you can do:  

  • Take photos of the bumblebees you notice when you’re out and about. You can use your phone or a digital camera.  
  • Share these photos with us—add them to the Bumblebees of San Diego County project on 
  • Not sure if what you’re seeing is a bumblebee? Not a problem, take a photo anyway, and folks on iNaturalist will identify what you’re seeing. That’s part of the fun.  

Help us find out what’s happening with these adorable, fuzzy insects. 

Keep in mind the places you find them! City Nature Challenge 2020 takes place April 24-27, and is all about nearby nature. 

Photos below are from the U.S. Geological Survey Bee Inventory Monitoring Lab.

Posted by The Nat on April 17, 2020

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