Protected: A Citizen Science Guide to Wild Bees and Floral Visitors in Western Washington

Protected: A Citizen Science Guide to Wild Bees and Floral Visitors in Western Washington

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Elias Bloom, Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Entomology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, Rachel Olsson, Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Entomology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, David Crowder, Assistant Professor, Department of Entomology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA
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Wild bees and other pollinators are critical for the sustainability of natural and managed ecosystems. Identifying the diversity and species composition of pollinator communities can aid in developing conservation plans and determining if pollination needs are being met. This guide is intended to provide the tools to identify and monitor wild bees and other floral visitors in the Puget Sound Region. Within the guide are labeled diagrams showing the morphological features, size and shape, pollen-carrying device, flowers frequently visited, and flight pattern for each wild bee group. Moreover, we provide a dichotomous key to aid in identification. This field guide is part of our citizen science program, the Citizen Science Initiative for Bees (CSI Bees), which seeks to deliver locally specific, data-driven education on wild bees of the Puget Sound Region. Therefore, the guide also contains instructions on how to submit observations of wild bees to our website, This guide is not intended for taxonomic identification, but rather a means for citizen scientists to become familiar with and monitor wild bees in western Washington urban gardens, farms, and landscapes. Since wild bees are difficult to monitor and identify, this guide acts an introductory document for those who would like to understand wild bee biodiversity and contribute to conservation through monitoring.


Concerns about pollinator declines have grown in recent years. This is problematic because pollinators, including wild, native, and domesticated bee species are critical for the production of a diverse mixture of fruit and vegetable crops in the Puget Sound Region. However, we currently have a limited understanding of the diversity of pollinators in the Puget Sound Region. In response to this, we conducted dozens of floral visitor surveys in the Puget Sound Region from 2014 to 2015 on more than 30 urban gardens and small-scale diversified farms. Our results indicate that there are hundreds of different invertebrate floral visitor species in the Puget Sound Region, many of which are wild bees. This guide characterizes the major bee and non-bee species that inhabit farms in the Puget Sound Region. The goal of the guide is to inform people interested in pollinators about how to make observations of floral visitors on their home gardens and farms.

Citizen Science for Bee Monitoring

While this guide is intended for any individual interested in pollinators, it is also intended for those who wish to participate in our citizen science initiative on cataloguing wild bee diversity in the Puget Sound Region. Citizen science, the involvement of volunteers in research, is another means to gather ecological data on pollinators over large temporal and spatial scales (Devictor 2010; Kaartinen et al. 2013). To address the lack of long-term pollinator data in Washington State, and reinforce Washington State University’s continuing commitment to information on beneficial insect protection (James 2014; Lawrence 2015), we established a citizen science program that connects community members in an information-sharing network, known as the Citizen Science Initiative for Bees (CSI Bees). All users of this guide are invited to contribute surveys of floral visitors to the CSI Bees project. Surveys can be submitted at our website,, and step-by-step instructions can be found in Section III. We also offer training classes on wild bee and floral visitor identification. A full list of classes can be found at our website. The premise of CSI Bees is to encourage wild bee conservation through short courses and collaborative bee monitoring.

How to Use the Guide

Tools useful for identification and descriptions of wild bees are found in Section I and II, respectively.

Details on how to observe and monitor floral visitors can be found in Section III. A data sheet for tracking your observations can be found in Appendix I.


The terminology found below may be helpful to better understand this guide. Terms have been adapted from: Triplehorn and Johnson (2005), Michener (2007), Gullan and Cranston (2010); and Droege (2015).

abdomen. A relatively simple structure typically made up of multiple segments. Bands of coloration and pollen-carrying devices located on this region may be particularly useful for bee identification.



Copyright 2017 Washington State University

Published April, 2017

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