Nearly 90% of flowering plant species, including 75% of agricultural crops, benefit from animal pollination. The United States alone grows more than 100 crops that either need or benefit from bee pollination, and the economic value of these native pollinators is estimated at $3 billion per year.

Bees are intimately tied to flowers by their use of pollen as a protein source, making them the most important pollinator taxon in many regions. Ongoing threats to managed, non-native Western Honey Bees (Apis mellifera) have raised public awareness of the importance of bees to human wellbeing, and there is concern that some of the approximately 4,000 bee species in the United States may also be declining.

Northern Amber Bumble Bee nectaring on Red Clover, the Vermont State Flower. / © K.P. McFarland

Although we estimate there are over 300 species of wild bees in Vermont, there has never been a full survey of the State’s bees. Without even a checklist of species, it is very difficult to know whether populations of Vermont’s bees are healthy or declining. The Vermont Wild Bee Survey represents the first step in assessing bee populations across Vermont.

The success of the Vermont Wild Bee Survey (VTBees) depends on committed volunteers. With the help of volunteer citizen scientists, over the next 5 years (2019 – 2023), we’ll survey bees from the shorelines of Lake Champlain to Green Mountain Summits, boldly going where no melittologist has gone before! These new specimen records will be added to digitized historic records from museums throughout the region to build the first comprehensive survey of the bee fauna of Vermont.

Phase 1: Chittenden County

In 2019, we’ll start our effort by concentrating on surveying Chittenden County. We’re hoping people like you will join VTBees, learn how to conduct surveys, and adopt a survey block. After our first successful season, we’ll expand the survey to the rest of Vermont in 2020 and beyond.

VTBees is a project of the Vermont Atlas of Life at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies in partnership with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and Stone Environmental with collaboration from the University of Vermont Field Naturalist Program and the University of Vermont Gund Institute for the Environment. Financial support has been provided by a State Wildlife Grant from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and generous contributions from Vermont Center for Ecostudies supporters.