AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine wildlife officials are enlisting members of the public to assist in a multi-year statewide survey looking into the diversity, distribution and abundance of the state's 17 known bumble bee species.
The large furry yellow and black insects are important pollinators. But in the past 25 years, certain North American species have declined significantly.
State Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologist Beth Swartz, who's coordinating the project, says volunteer citizen scientists will help researchers learn more about Maine's bumble bee population.
"We don't have a good baseline database to tell us about what species occur here, how they've distributed, whether they're abundant or not - are they increasing or decreasing?" Swartz says.
Volunteers don't need prior experience surveying for bees, but they are asked to attend a six-hour training workshop before they go out on a regular basis to collect data.
Swartz says a training session scheduled for later this month is already full, but another workshop is being planned for July.