Free Workshop and Talk Exploring the Biology, Identification, and Recent Decline of Bumble Bees

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Date: July 9, 2013
Contact: Greg Shine, Chief Ranger & Historian, 360.816.6231

What: Bumble Bee Identification & Survey Workshop and a public talk entitled “Bumble Bee Declines in North America: Placing Local Events into the Big Picture”

Who: Dr. James P. “Jamie” Strange, Research Entomologist with the USDA- Agricultural Research Service in Logan, UT at the Pollinating Insect Research Unit

When: Tuesday, July 23: free workshop (by reservation) at 1:00 p.m., free public talk at 7:00 p.m.

Where: Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, Tex Rankin Theater at Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E. Fifth Street, Vancouver, WA 98661

How much: Free. Limited reservations available for afternoon workshop; no reservation required for evening talk

VANCOUVER, WA -- The National Park Service at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site announces two upcoming free programs scheduled for Tuesday, July 23, 2013 --an afternoon workshop and an evening public program--exploring the biology, identification, and recent decline of bumble bees.

Both programs will take place at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site’s Tex Rankin Theater at Pearson Air Museum and will be presented by Dr. James P. Strange.

Program 1: Afternoon bumble bee identification and survey workshop (by reservation only)

  • NOTE: Registration for this program has reached capacity and is closed.

  • This two-hour workshop will encompass the basics of bumble bee biology, identification and monitoring strategies enabling land managers, citizen scientists and biologists to evaluate the health of bumble bee populations.  The workshop will be divided into three parts: bumble bee biology, identification of bumble bee species, and survey techniques and data collection.

  • Participation is free but limited to 20 individuals, with a preference for municipal, county, state, federal, and non-profit organizations and citizen scientists interested in learning more about bumble bee survey techniques and data collection.

Program 2: Evening public talk: Bumble Bee Declines in North America: Placing Local Events into the Big Picture (no reservation necessary).

  • The recent pesticide kill of over 50,000 bumble bees in Wilsonville, Oregon captured the headlines for the dramatic numbers and the preventable nature of the tragedy.  But what affect, if any, will this event have on bumble bee populations?  

  • Dr. Strange has surveyed bumble bee populations for six years across the western United States in response to reports of declines of some species. While pesticide kills are dramatic, some even more alarming trends have come out of his surveys.  

  • Some bumble bee species that were once common have become rare and now found only in isolated areas.  These species are associated with higher levels of pathogens and lower levels of genetic diversity than other bumble bee species.  

  • Even though these events are alarming, there are actions that everyone can take to help protect these important pollinators.

Dr. James “Jamie” Strange is a Research Entomologist with the USDA- Agricultural Research Service in Logan, UT at the Pollinating Insect Research Unit. Dr. Strange specializes on issues related to bumble bees, especially the management of bumble bees in agricultural settings and issues related to the conservation and genetics of declining species. He received his Ph.D. from Washington State University where he worked on the conservation genetics of honey bees.

His 2012 publication, a Guide to the Bumble Bees of the Western United States, co-authored with Jonathan Koch and Paul Williams was recently named a notable government publication by the American Library Association.

“We’re excited for Dr. Strange to visit, survey, and provide public programming at Fort Vancouver NHS this summer,” said Greg Shine, Chief Ranger & Historian at Fort Vancouver NHS, and park representative to the NPS North Coast and Cascades Science Learning Network.

“With Fort Vancouver’s extensive history of horticulture, learning about bumble bees can help us better understand the early success of flowering plants such as the Old Apple Tree and others in the Hudson’s Bay Company’s orchard and garden—especially in the years before the introduction of non-native bees,” said Shine.  “Visiting Fort Vancouver in 1846,” Shine said, “Lt. Neal Howison noted that ‘the honey-bee has not yet been naturalized,’ but pollination of the HBC’s flowering plants had obviously been taking place for about two decades, thanks in part to native bumble bees.”

"The National Park Service has a long history of working with scientists in national parks, and Fort Vancouver National Historic Site is no exception," noted Superintendent Tracy Fortmann. "Here at this national park just some of the scientific studies and research have included pollen, phytolith, and x-ray fluorescent sediment analysis; near surface geophysical remote sensing, including ground penetrating radar, electrical resistivity, and magnetometry; Pb provenance research, including lead isotope and trace element analysis; neutron activation of clay artifacts to identify sources; and wildlife and plant surveys and studies, including salmon and elk DNA analysis. These and other efforts provide the scientific community, students, and the general public with vital STEM learning opportunities," Fortmann added.

The program is made possible through the National Park Service’s North Coast and Cascades Science Learning Network. Its mission is to integrate research and education to increase the effectiveness of communicating park research, scientific results, and the management of park resources by:

  • Facilitating use of national parks for scientific inquiry

  • Supporting science-informed decision making

  • Communicating relevance of and providing access to research knowledge

  • Promoting resource stewardship through partnerships


Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service, is the heart of the Vancouver National Historic Reserve. The Vancouver National Historic Reserve brings together a national park, a premier archaeological site, the region's first military post, an international fur trade emporium, one of the oldest operating airfields, the first national historic site west of the Mississippi River, and a waterfront trail and environmental center on the banks of the Columbia River. The partners of the Reserve teach visitors about the fur trade, early military life, natural history, and pioneers in aviation, all within the context of Vancouver's role in regional and national development. The Reserve's vast array of public programs -- including living history events, cultural demonstrations, exhibits, active archaeology, and other special events and activities -- create a dynamic, fun, and unique tourist destination for people of all ages.

Poster advertising the 7/23 bumble bee evening talk

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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612 E Reserve St
Vancouver , WA 98661


(360) 816-6230

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