By Mark Prado
Marin Independent Journal
Posted: 08/16/2013 03:58:12 PM PDT
The sixth annual Great Bee Count will occur Saturday, the brainchild of a Corte Madera professor aimed at tracking the world's important pollinators.
Anyone can participate, in fact the more the merrier, said Gretchen LeBuhn, who teaches ecology and conservation biology at San Francisco State University.
"The count happens all over the world, but is strongest in Canada and the United States," the Corte Madera resident said.
LeBuhn is building data on bees — and for the first time this year other pollinators, such as hummingbirds, butterflies and moths — which work their magic on flowers, almonds, apples and alfalfa, among other flora. Observers are asked to take a few minutes to note what
they see and upload the information to www.greatsunflower.org.
The project has been gathering information since 2008 and now boasts the largest single body of data about bee pollination in North America. While people can make their observations and send in data any time, Saturday has been named the day of the national count.
"We want to see what is happening in our wildlands and open space," LeBuhn said. "Our goal is build a data set for more than just bees that people can use."
Saturday's count occurs in the wake of an announcement this week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that it has developed new labels that prohibit use of some neonicotinoid pesticide products where bees and other pollinators are present.
Neonicotinoid are a class of chemicals that act on the central nervous system of insects. Beekeepers and environmental organizations say they are toxic to bees and could be a significant factor in colony collapse disorder, in which all the adult honeybees in a colony suddenly disappear or die. This year, some beekeepers lost up to 50 percent of their colonies.
"The proper use of pesticides is critical for the protection of honey bees, and the crops that depend on them for pollination," said Kathleen Johnson, EPA's enforcement division director for the Pacific Southwest said in a statement.
The new labels will have a bee advisory box and icon with information on routes of exposure and spray drift precautions. The EPA will work with pesticide manufacturers to change labels so that they will meet federal rules.
The new label rules affect products containing the neonicotinoids imidacloprid, dinotefuran, clothianidin and thiamethoxam.
Contact Mark Prado via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Associated Press contributed to this report.