National Native Bee Phenology Project

Left and Top Right: Santa Monica College Students complete bee sampling at Santa Monica Mountains NRA, Susan Teel, NPS
Bottom Right: NPS staff sample bees on Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park, Susan Teel, NPS

California’s 1600 native bee species—ranging in size from burly bumblebees to those that are almost too small to see—are essential pollinators of both agricultural crops and native plants. Despite the vital role they play in just about every terrestrial ecosystem, we know very little about how many bees live on National Park Service lands and where they can be found. We understand even less about what effects climate change might have on native bees, especially those that live in habitats that are particularly vulnerable to shifts in climate and weather patterns such as high elevation, coastal, and arid zones.

The National Native Bee Project is hoping to help close this information gap by using simple and inexpensive methods to collect information on bee species distribution at 75 different national park units across the country. The SCRLC, in partnership with Santa Monica College, is leading the MEDN Network’s efforts in this project, sampling bees on Santa Cruz Island and Santa Rosa Island, as well as two dune sites in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The data collected at MEDN parks, combined with that from other sites across the nation, will:

  • Greatly increase our knowledge of bee species diversity and distribution
  • Help predict how bees might fare under different climate scenarios by comparing bee diversity, nesting, and plant preferences in areas with different climates
  • Allow park managers to understand, plan for, and possibly mitigate the predicted effects of climate change on sensitive bee species
  • Provide educational materials for park visitors, volunteers, and staff