About SWMBees

Female bombus griseocollis pollinating white campion

What is SWMBees?

Southwest Michigan Bee Watch (swmbees) is a community science program aimed at documenting bumble bee species diversity and the plants they feed on in the nine counties of Southwest Michigan: Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, and Van Buren. Community science means that all community members are invited to participate in this research initiative. More contributors means more ground covered. Volunteering is a great way to commit to the betterment of our local ecosystem while enjoying all it has to offer. Learn more about the swmbees program in this video overview.

Why bumble bees?

Bumble bees play an important role as pollinators in natural and managed landscapes. Unfortunately, their population numbers are declining across the nation, state, and region for a variety of reasons including climate change, habitat loss, pesticides and disease. Data from this project will help us develop an understanding of what types of bumble bees are in our area, where they live, and what resources they need to sustain their colonies.

How can you contribute?

The swmbees project began in spring 2020 and is administered through Kalamazoo College. In this initial year, we are especially interested in documenting bumble bees from the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy nature preserves in our study area and the Kalamazoo College Lillian Anderson Arboretum. We welcome and encourage submissions from all areas of Southwest Michigan, however, as we seek to understand and work to conserve these important pollinators. Be it your yard, neighborhood, roadside, park or preserve – we welcome your submissions! See our Volunteering page for more details.