Count bees, help scientists studying declining numbers of pollinators

wandering bumblebee
The ‘wandering bumblebee’ (Bombus vagans Smith) is a native bee species found in Washington state. Photo: David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.

The Great Bee Count is tomorrow (Saturday, August 11). It’s your chance to get outside and take part in a nationwide information-gathering exercise documenting urban, suburban, and rural bee populations. The idea behind the annual Great Bee Counts is to engage citizens to help scientists who are studying the health and extent of wild bees in our urban, suburban, and rural landscapes. Here’s how:

The project, which started enlisting ‘citizen-scientists’ in 2008, has already found that urban areas have fewer visits from bees than other habitats. Based on previous years’ data, the project found volunteers in urban gardens reported finding an average of 23.3 bees per hour, compared to 30.4 per hour in rural areas and 31.6 in forests and wildlands. The size and location of the garden can make a big difference ­– you may see anywhere between zero and several dozen bees.

You can do observations all year round, of course, but tomorrow is the day when thousands of other people will do their bee counts, too. And the weather promises to be good for people and pollinators across Washington state. The annual counts are both a scientific study and a reminder of the importance wild bees and other pollinators — about one-third of the human food supply depends on insect pollination.

Consider doing your bee count while visiting a DNR-managed recreation area or a Natural Resources Conservation Area.

Don’t forget your Discover Pass
Don’t forget! You need your Discover Pass to access DNR recreation sites and Natural Resources Conservation Areas by vehicle. Learn more at

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