Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Counting Bees

This photo of a Western Bumble Bee pollinating a pink scented geranium was uploaded to the City Nature Challenge.

There’s a lot of buzz about counting bees and other important pollinators essential to our food supply. Our thanks to a Buzz reader who noticed a story in the Los Angeles Times about another effort to engage citizens, this one is to help count the world’s bee population.

According to the LA Times:

Starting May 1, there’ll be a free app to help answer that question as part of the first World Bee Countand all you need to participate is a smartphone and a willingness to snap photos, says beekeeper, farmer and computer science professor James Wilkes.

“It’s just, if you see a flower with a bug on it, then take the picture and send it in.”

The project is designed to be as simple as possible, to build awareness of the critical role pollinators play in our world, Wilkes said. Those “bugs” we pretty much ignore — or run from — every day are essential to our survival. “We’re trying to build awareness about the various insects who pollinate our food and flowers and the importance to our food systems,” he said.

The City Nature Challenge currently underway this weekend uses a similar strategy. Citizens are invited to help scientists collect data using a smartphone app,  iNaturalist, that allows scientists all over the world access to the information that is collected for various projects.

Both efforts rely on crowd sourcing data from citizens all over the world allowing scientist to go beyond their labs.

The City Nature Challenge gives scientists the opportunity to see what’s in our backyards, something they could never do without the use of the app and our participation, explained Lila Higgins co-founder of the City Nature Challenge, Senior Manager, Community Science at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and Co-founder of the City Nature Challenge…as well as author of NHM’s book Wild LA.

If you can get outside this weekend and observe safe social distancing protocols, you are likely to see lots of insects. They are much more active when it’s warm and sunny, said Higgins. Upload your images to iNaturalist this weekend, before the challenge ends on Sunday at midnight, that will help scientists collect insect population data across LA County. It will also be good practice for the launch of the Bee Count app on May 1st.

According to the LA Times, Bees Count hopes to create a map on its website that shows the overall number of pollinators counted around the world by May 20 — World Bee Day. Organizers hope that learning about the essential role these animals play in our food supply people will be less likely to use pesticides that endanger bees.  Said the Times:

“The project sponsor — Cedar Anderson, the co-owner of Australian-based beehive maker Flow — says he has a bigger vision.

“We aim to inspire people with the education piece, so they can maybe think, ‘These pollinators are doing such an incredible job in my garden, perhaps I shouldn’t spray with insecticides,’” said Anderson, a former Greenpeace worker who used to fly paragliders over jungles (“with an engine on my back”) to track illegal burning before he became a business owner and dad. “And if we get enough participants, we might even find new species, pollinators that haven’t been recorded yet. We need to know more about pollinators because they’re so incredibly important to our natural system. If we can map where they are, perhaps we can make better decisions about what’s important and keep the whole system going.”

You can follow Bees on Instagram. Send them an e-mail and they’ll let you know when their app goes live. (photo from on Instagram)
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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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