Sonoma (USA) - Second Annual Sonoma Valley Native Bee Count Coming


Sonoma, CA, June 12, 2012 – The Second Annual Sonoma Valley Native Bee Count is taking place at various locations throughoutSonoma Valley on Saturday, June 23, 2012. The Bee Count is being co-sponsored by Cittaslow USAand Cittaslow Sonoma Valley. The mission of Cittaslow Pollinator Pals locally is to bring public attention to the importance of bees and other pollinators to our supply of fresh food in the Sonoma Valley, and to educate the public about the rapid decline that has been occurring in bee populations in recent years.

Some people count their blessings, others count their pennies, and many count calories, but, on June 23, a group of Sonoma Valley citizen scientists will be doing a whole different kind of counting – they'll be counting bees! The Second Annual Sonoma Valley Native Bee Count, under the direction of noted UC Berkeley entomologist, Gordon Frankie PhD, will collect data that is expected to provide some new insights into the status and health of our local bee populations.

"It is only by monitoring the bees over time that we can see whether the number of bees is increasing or decreasing. By taking annual counts at three different Sonoma Valley locations, we will be able to see not only changes in the number of bees, but also the diversity of the populations themselves," according to Dr. Frankie.

The results of last year's count, analyzed by Dr. Robbin Thorp of UC Davis, showed that within the three counting sites in Sonoma Valley, there were 4 Families, 12 Genera, and 33 Species of bee, and most of them were natives. Although the honeybee was counted it is not considered a native bee because it was imported from Europe. Results from each count will reside on the Sonoma Ecology Center Knowledge Base of statistics from around the valley.

According to leading scientists, bees are critical to our existence. Between 30% and 40% of our food matures to an edible state through pollination. This includes squash, cucumbers, and other garden vegetables, stone fruit, and citrus, not to mention the plants in our own garden landscapes and the native plants in local woodlands and riparian areas. If there were no pollination by bees, there would be no seeds to allow these plants to replenish themselves. "Our hillsides would potentially become barren, and our diet would definitely become boring!" said Shelley Arrowsmith, a local farmer and beekeeper who is coordinating the project.

At the Bee Count, an experienced professional will work with each team of volunteers to provide on-site assistance and identification for the count. Since many native bees look similar, and new species are often observed during the counting process, samples will be sent to UC Davis for accurate identification.
The bee count is but one of many projects of Cittaslow Pollinator Pals that will be taking place locally over the next several months. ThisCittaslow initiative will also be featured internationally at Slow Food International's Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto events in Turin, Italy in October. More than 200,000 people from 161 countries attended this bi-annual event in 2010.