See Like a Bee

Haley Meisenholder, Jay Dev, Marc Gomez, Maddie Pelz

The data say that bee populations have been dramatically decreasing in most of the US over time. Our audience is a visitor to the USDA websitee who wants to learn more about bees and find out what they can do to help them recover from their population losses. Our goals are to inform people who might not think of bees as anything special about how much bees contribute to the success of agriculture across the country, and how threatened they are as a species. It is also our goal to then link people using this platform up with resources for them to explore different plants they can plant in their own garden to help support bees, how they can support legislation to protect bees in their state, and where they can find local honey to purchase.

Our data story takes the form of an interactive website. The viewer starts on a page with an overview of the bee populations in each state using data on honey producing colonies from the USDA. They then identify what state they are from to narrow in on the data and explore the information most relevant to them. Once the participant enters where they live, you can explore the health of the bees in your state by learning the extent to which bees were lost between 2001 and 2011, and then see most current numbers for 2017.

After learning on the first page that bees are crucial to agriculture, on the second page they are able to see the general changes in the bee populations in their state (most decreasing dramatically). After viewing this information, participants can then activate ‘bee vision, ’ created from data from the National Land Cover Database (2011). ‘Bee Vision’ shows vegetation land lost between 2001 and 2011. This map links land use to bee health, demonstrating how these changes to agriculture threaten their survival.

After exploring ‘bee vision,’ the next page then acts as a way to inform people about what they can do to make a difference. Rather than just a general call to action, this page provides an array of information that people can use to take specific steps towards action. In addition to information about the three ways to move forward that were mentioned previously, there are links to organizations or contact information that allow for immediate action to be taken.