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May 17, 2023

As flowers bloom, bees rev up their pollinating rounds, and a host of Community Scientists are helping local pros explore key bee-health questions: what promotes bee diversity and bee-plant interactions in residential and community gardens? 


This is Shutterbee! Backyard bee photography to improve conservation practices. Nina Fogel, Ph.D. co-leads this multi-year project from the Billiken Bee Lab at Saint Louis University with founder and Webster U professor Dr. Nicole Miller-Struttmann, and a team of fellow academics, students and community partners.


Shutterbee is a "standardized survey." Volunteers observe strict protocols - as they strive to photograph bees on the move! Participants commit to taking their smartphone in the same hours on the same day of every month for the same walk around their gardens, and uploading photos of bees they observe into the Shutterbee project on the app iNaturalist. Project leaders identify bees and plants in these photos to evaluate how bees behave in urban, suburban, and rural environments. Next time you're out in your yard, try it. Happily - and essentially - training is provided.

Shutterbee enrollment is filled for 2023, but you can tap into studying bees using the project's vivid resources, pollinator info and bee identification guides.  

Congratulations Nina! Achieving her Doctorate this spring with her study of the patterns of bee diversity in home gardens enrolled in Bring Conservation Home, the native plant program of St. Louis Audubon - and for finding, through her work in 2022, a native bee so rare it had only been documented once before in Missouri.

THANKS to Andy Heaslet, Earthworms audio engineer, and to KDHX production potentate, Jon Valley.

Related Earthworms Conversations:
Wires Over Wildlife: power lines as biodiversity connectors (August 2020)

VR Botany: Dr. Kyra Krakos brings the outdoors waaaaay in (April 2020)

Naturalist: graphic novel updates Rockstar Biologist memoir (November 2020