Get Involved

Interested in becoming a citizen scientist bee watcher? Being a volunteer means you will spend time looking for and taking pictures of bumble bees in our research area. Taking pictures of bumble bees is not as hard as you might think; bumble bees are easily identifiable, have an audible buzz, and spend a lot of time traveling between wildflowers. They are also friendly! Although female bumble bees are capable of stinging, the likelihood of being stung is very low as long as you aren’t near their nest and don’t irritate them as they go about their business.

What you need to get started:

  • Any kind of picture-taking device (e.g. smartphone, digital camera, GoPro)
  • Internet access
  • An iNaturalist account (tutorial on how to set up an account on your smartphone and start submitting observations; you can also create and account on your computer and upload photos)
    • you can search for and join our “Southwest Michigan Bee Watch” project under the “More” tab, but if your submitted location is anywhere in our nine country area, your observations will automatically be added to our project
  • Alternatively, you can create a Bumble Bee Watch account (tutorial video on how to sign up). See our Submit Data page for how to sign up for these accounts and get started with your submissions.
  • Patience and love of nature

We ask that volunteers refer to the training modules and resources to familiarize themselves with bumble bee characteristics, photography tips, and more. Volunteering for this project is a flexible time commitment that can fit your schedule’s needs.