We just received a summary of our bumble bee survey results from the "Bee Team" at the Ohio Bee Atlas, a project of the Ohio State University and the University of Akron. In 2017 the team surveyed 130 sites in 46 Ohio counties, including the front field at Mount St. John. Ohio is home to 10 bumblebee species, but the team is looking for two - the federally-endangered rusty-patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) and the yellow-banded bumble bee (Bombus terricola). The team didn’t find either during 2017 surveys but they are optimistic for next year’s survey season.
Overall, the team recorded 29,000 bee visits to flowers. Of those 10,000 were bumblebees visiting 132 species of flowers. The rest were honey bees, which are native to Europe and parts of Asia, and other native bees such as orchard bees and carpenter bees. At Mount St. John, the team observed 132 bumble bees of three species: the common Eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens), the brown-belted bumble bee (Bombus griseocollis) and the two-spotted bumble bee (Bombus bimaculatus). MEEC staff has also identified the black and gold bumble bee (Bombus auricomus) at MSJ.
The rusty-patched bumble bee was once common in Ohio and found in a variety of habitats, but loss of nesting and food habitat, diseases, pesticides, intensive farming and global climate change have brought numbers close to collapse. Research projects such as the Ohio Bee Atlas are track the distribution and abundance of the bees and assist the development of management plans to increase populations. Bees are important pollinators and support a number of ecosystem functions.
You don’t have to be a scientist to participate in this effort. The Ohio Bee Atlas is a citizen science initiative. Anyone interested can learn to identify bees and upload observations to iNaturalist. Interested? Visit http://u.osu.edu/beelab/ohio-bee-atlas/ for more information, including bee identification guides and participation instructions.