Plan Bee: Volunteer “Citizen Scientists” Can Help Survey Pollinators

A bumblebee laden with pollen feeds on a purple clover flower.
A bumblebee pollinates a prairie clover

NPS Photo by Erin Anfinson

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News Release Date: August 2, 2018

Contact: Byrony Forbes, (319) 643-2541

WEST BRANCH, IOWA— Which species of bees live in the park’s tallgrass prairie? To help answer that question, the National Park Service is looking for volunteers to join “Plan Bee” on Saturday, August 18th at Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch, Iowa. 

Roughly 4,000 bee species are native to North America. They are important pollinators crops and wild plants. Bee and other pollinator species are declining worldwide because of climate change, habitat destruction, and numerous other factors, but it is unknown exactly how many species can be found in Iowa. A survey of bees will help the National Park Service know which species use the prairie, which native plants should be planted, and give a sharper picture of the benefits from maintaining the prairie.

The project is limited to the first 20 people who sign up. Volunteers must be at least 14 years old. Participants will meet at the visitor center at 7 a.m. for an orientation and to get signed up, then head to the prairie with park staff and scientists to catch, photograph, and release bees unharmed.  The National Park Service will use the photographs to document and identify the insects found. Work will last until 11 a.m.

To learn more about the project call (319) 643-2541. To sign up to volunteer, ask to be placed on the Plan Bee list. There may be an elevated risk of being stung while participating; those with allergies to stings should bring their prescribed antidote. Dress for the weather and wear comfortable work clothes. Long pants and closed toe shoes are required. Bring a water bottle, hat, sunscreen, bug spray, long sleeved shirt, and a snack. The park will provide the required tools and equipment. 

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum are in West Branch, Iowa at exit 254 off I-80. Both are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time. For more information go online at or call (319) 643-2541.

Last updated: August 2, 2018

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West Branch, IA 52358


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