This Week’s Creature Feature … Get Buzzed with the Great Bee Count

You may need to get down on your hands and knees for this one.    
    And you will definitely need your computer or smart phone.
    Bee counting has gone hi-tech. — a social network for gardeners — is asking gardeners, nature lovers and community members to join in a Citizen Science effort to count bees in backyards, balconies and public spaces across North America.
    For the bee-count, the San Francisco based network is aiming for one bee counter in each of the 43,000 U.S. zip codes. To keep track of all the bees, they’ve designed a bee count widget — available online — that keeps a running tally of how many bees were counted recently in each zip code. The bee count continues until November 1, 2011.
    Over recent years, researchers across the country are finding that bees — in the wild, near farms, even in towns and cities — are disappearing, and they’re not sure why. The people behind, founders, Tom Finerty and Lisa Marini Finerty, believe citizen scientists can help researchers with their field work:
    “Our citizen science project provides a way for regular people across the country to join together and help solve some of today’s toughest environmental problems,”
    They’ve joined forces with the USA National Phenology Network — a group of government agencies, non-profit groups, educators and students to monitor the impacts of climate change on plants and animals in the United States — providing researchers with far more data than could be collected alone.
    “We can’t survive without our pollinators,” said Marini-Finerty, who is also a Master Gardener. “So we built a way to take action.”
    The action kicks off with a virtual Bee-a-thon 2011 on July 16. From 6am-6pm EDT, the interactive town-hall meeting will feature experts discussing the dwindling global bee populations and ways to take action. Learn how pollinators are responsible for one in every three bites of food, contribute billions of dollars to global economies and face challenges from colony collapse disorder and other threats. Hear the latest buzz on what’s happening to the bees and what you can do this summer to support the bee population and habitat.

Download a bee-counting widget:

Learn more about the Great Backyard Bee Count and the Bee-a-thon: