Ohio Bee Atlas

Ohio Bee Atlas is a fun easy way for everyone to help bees! Use the free iNaturalist app to take pictures of bees on flowers and submit observations to the Ohio Bee Atlas project. Experts weigh in to help identify bee observations.

Ohio Bee Atlas is a cooperative effort of US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, The Ohio State University, The University of Akron, as well as several Ohio park districts and other conservation organizations. It was primarily established to document the distribution and identity of bumblebees due to the recent listing of the rusty patched bumblebee (Bombus affinis) as a federally endangered species (more information here). However, records of all bees are encouraged. Through iNaturalist, observers can upload observations of bees in Ohio.

Bombus affinis, USGS Bee Lab

The rusty patched bumble bee was once a common species throughout much of Ohio, occupying a variety of habitats that include prairies, woodlands, marshes, agricultural landscapes and residential parks and gardens. Photos of the back and face are most useful for identification, but feel free to submit records simply as “bee”. Here is a pocket guide from The Xerxes Society to aid in the identification of the bumblebee.

Ohio Bee Atlas press release

Learn more about Ohio bee identification here.

Sign up with iNaturalist to join the Ohio Bee Atlas effort. The image below from iNaturalist describes the process of posting observations. 

Find iNaturalist training videos here.

Formal survey protocols (quantifying search time and area) have been developed by the US Fish & Wildlife Service to provide more information on bee presence/absence, densities and richness. We are presently working on a website that will provide a means of describing and collecting data on the Level 2 protocol, which we are encouraging for those with more interest.