Some people swat at bees. Others put out traps. The Ohio Department of Transportation is funding a new proposal to protect the buzzing insects, and they're asking the public to help.
ODOT officials say they’ve selected a proposal from Karen Goodell, an Ohio State University at Newark associate professor of evolution, ecology and organismal biology.
“It’s exciting that ODOT is taking a leadership position on endangered bees,” Goodell says.
Goodell says she’ll conduct statewide surveys for the endangered rusty patched bumble bee as well as the yellow-banded bumble bees, which have seen population declines in recent years.
Part of her study will rely on volunteers and scientists sending suggestions of areas to examine – typically natural areas that are at least one acre and contain flowers. People sending suggestions will use the app iNaturalist.
The information Goodell collects will help ODOT plan future transportation projects to minimize the impact on these species and their habitats.
Goodell likens iNaturalist to “Facebook for nature nerds.”
“Anyone can sign up for an account then post photos of bees or purported bees. The identifications are crowd sourced,” Goodell says. “Bee biologists and amateur entomologists can identify the species from the photos. We are encouraging interested individuals to post bumble bee photos to help us to identify places across the state that we should survey.”