An effort is underway to survey bumble bees in Grant County to assist in a project to understand their distribution throughout the state.
Plans are to conduct “potentially five surveys,” according to Lexi Hingtgen, a resource technician and education specialist with the Upper Loup Natural Resources District.
“The NRD was interested in assisting” with survey efforts “because conservation of our pollinators and their habitat is vital…,” according to information provided by Hingtgen.
A survey protocol grid for the county was established “due to the minimal data recovered from the surrounding area as well as the high potential for various species data collection,” according available details. “Surveys are conducted on various public highways where plant species, landscape, bee species, and other environmental details are recorded and submitted to the database.” Each survey is done using a “catch-and-release” method so the bees are not harmed.
The first survey occurred August 14th, though no bees were seen because of windy conditions, Hingtgen said. She did complete a habitat evaluation.
Collecting information on the occurrence of bumble bees is underway by volunteers and contributors throughout Nebraska as was started late in the 2019 growing season. In addition to depicting current occurrence, the Information gathered will be compared to historic records – notably from the 1880s - to evaluate any apparent changes in species distribution.
Twenty species of bumble bees occur within Nebraska and are dependent on a diverse variety of plants – very notably sunflowers and thistles - to thrive and survive. There are four known species which are species of “greater conservation need.”
“Studies have shown that population numbers are declining likely due to habitat loss, pesticide use, climate change, low genetic diversity, and the transfer of pathogens through use of commercial pollinators,” indicates information on the bumble bee atlas web site for the state.
“The Nebraska Bumble Bee Atlas is a statewide community science project that aims to use information gathered to track and aid in the conservation of Nebraska’s native bumble bees.” Since the project is community based, this means “that anyone can be involved,” with requirements indicated on the survey website.
There are several “grid cells” available for adoption with the sand hills, including a few “high interest” cells in southwest Cherry County, northward of Hyannis.
“The Atlas is a collaboration between the Xerces Society and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and is supported by funds from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.” Further details are available at www.nebraskabumblebeeatlas.org” where in addition to a indications of the first results, some photographs taken by “Bumble Bee Watch” participants are featured.