Frequently Asked Questions
what do i do if i might have rusty patched bumble bees nearby?
Do not dig for queens in areas where rusty patched bumble bee may be present, unless you have a U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) permit for that specific activity (in the U.S.). Handling a rusty patched bumble bee without a permit is a violation of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. To determine where the rusty patched bumble bee may be present, see the USFWS's map of areas where the species may be present (red, yellow, and blue colored polygons) - the polygons as of 7 November 2019 are also added to the map on the home page (black - high priority zones; red - low priority zones; blue - uncertainty zones). The USFWS map is updated frequently, so be sure to check the map just prior to your searches. For information on obtaining a handling permit, please see the RPBB Scientific Recovery Permit FAQs. There is some chance that you may encounter rusty patched bumble bee outside of the mapped polygons - if that happens, please let us know as the information will be very helpful for recovery efforts! Queen Quest and USFWS are very interested in all rusty patched bumble bee observations. See this guide to help you identify rusty patched bumble bee queens.
If i find bumble bee queens, will I disturb them?
The short answer is yes, if you find a queen there is a chance you will disturb her. But we believe that any potential costs are outweighed by the significant conservation benefit that will come from these surveys. But, please see the FAQ above if you live within the range of the rusty patched bumble bee. If you do encounter a bee, we suggest that you recover her with the material from which she was disturbed, but there is no guarantee she will re-enter torpor. As such, there may be mortality; but again - we feel the information gleaned outweighs those costs since to date so little is known.
If this might kill bumble bees, why are you doing it? I thought the goal was conservation.
So little is known about overwintering, yet it is how queen bumble bees spend half of their life. Without a better understanding it is possible we're missing something important about how to conserve them. If you are uncomfortable with this, please do not feel that you have to participate. Similarly, many people choose not to lethally sample bees, and that is fine -- but it would be hard to argue that we have not learned a tremendous amount to inform conservation from museum collections of insects.
what is the best way to search?
where should i search?
Do you want our data even if we don't find queens?
Absolutely yes! Absence data is just as valuable as presence data. An important goal of this project is to quantify how much effort it takes to find queens so researchers can estimate feasibility for future study. When entering your data in the form, be sure to include search efforts that resulted in no found queens.
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