September 8, 2021

Dear California bumble bee enthusiasts,

Hello and happy September! I’m writing with an update on the California Bumble Bee Atlas. As it is now September and we are still not able to launch the Atlas, we have decided to put this community science project on hold until early Spring, 2022. This is unfortunate, given how many of you have expressed interest in participating! This means that we will not be training volunteers to collect bumble bee data until early 2022. As always, we welcome your submissions of photo observations of bumble bees at Bumble Bee Watch, but we can’t yet allow project participants to catch and handle bees. Despite this setback, there is reason for optimism! We are confident that we’ll be able to start the project on time in 2022. And, we’ll take the fall and winter months to improve our participant materials, the data entry experience, and other aspects of the project. In hopes of maintaining your enthusiasm for being a part of this project, during this time I’ll occasionally contact you at this address with project updates, opportunities to learn more about bumble bees, and bee conservation current events.

To this end, I will be hosting a bumble bee field trip this month as part of California Biodiversity Day 2021, and you are invited! This event will take place on Saturday, September 11th from 10AM-1PM in San Diego’s Balboa Park. The plan is to take a walk through this historic park’s many gardens in search of Sonoran bumble bee and a few other species that may still be active. Along the way, we’ll discuss bumble bee natural history, identification, and conservation. It is important to stress that for the same reasons we can’t yet launch the community science project, this event is not a part of the California Bumble Bee Atlas! You can learn more about this walk at the Biodiversity Day website ( or by emailing me directly:

In closing, I’d like to let you know that one of California’s native species, Franklin’s bumble bee (Bombus franklini, foraging on California poppy in a photo by Peter Schroeder, below), was recently listed as Endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This is a bee found only in a small, mountainous range straddling the California-Oregon border. Following declines noticed in the 1990s, efforts to find the bee increased. Despite this, it has not been seen in 15 years! Finding Franklin’s bumble bee is a priority for the California Bumble Bee Atlas, so stay tuned for more information on helping us with this task. You can read more about this listing decision and Franklin’s bumble bee here:

Thank you for your continued interest in California bumble bees! I look forward to working with you in the near future.


On behalf of the California Bumble Bee Atlas team,


Leif Richardson

Endangered Species Conservation Biologist

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation

Photo above: White-shouldered bumble bee forages at monument plant. Photo by L. Richardson / The Xerces Society

Header photo: Hunt bumble bee. Photo by L. Richardson/ The Xerces Society

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