star Be part of April 1–30! star
When we hear ‘bee’ we often think of the European honey bee, but there are at least 600-700 species of bees in Washington and Oregon. Native bees are very different, but we know very little about their status. What flowers do they pollinate? Where and when do they nest? How can we use our gardens to support them? Washington has implemented the Washington Bee Atlas (WaBA) to find out more. It was formed in 2023 and modeled after the successful Oregon Bee Atlas, which has added 220 bee species to their state list! These community science groups train volunteers to collect, pin, and label bee specimens. Many of the volunteers have no science or entomology background. They post data through the app iNaturalist, providing date, location, collector and host plant information. The specimens are then identified by professionals, deposited at WSU or OSU insect collections, and the data made public! This information is highly valuable to conservation efforts of all 600+ species of native bees known to occur in the PNW. This Science on Tap will talk about native bee biology and general gardening guidelines, then give an introduction to Washington Bee Atlas and how it all works. Dr. Karen Wright got her Master’s degree at OSU in Entomology (working on true bugs and beetles in hazelnuts), then moved to New Mexico where she started her career working on native bees. She developed a collection of over 600 species of bees from central New Mexico, and the long-term study is still ongoing with over 20 years of data. She got her PhD from the University of New Mexico on the Evolution of Diet Breadth in Melissodes bees and was curator of the insect collection at Texas A&M University for six years until being hired to develop and manage the Washington Bee Atlas. She has happily relocated to Yakima, Washington with her dogs and husband.