With Help From ‘Citizen Scientists,’ UVA Researchers Count Virginia’s Bees

Bee on a pink and white flower

It was like Santa’s workshop in February at the University of Virginia’s Blandy Experimental Farm in Clarke County, where environmental sciences graduate student Kathryn LeCroy was busy learning to use power tools as she worked furiously to construct 100 wooden “bee hotels” for a project to monitor mason bee populations around Virginia.

LeCroy’s problem was that February this year was unusually warm, and last year’s bees, coaxed by the mild weather, might emerge early, seeking nectar from early-blooming flowers. If that happened, the bees would find their own natural “hotels” in which to nest, thwarting LeCroy’s best-laid plans to understand how their populations may be changing.

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