Data and Privacy Policy

Bumble Bee Watch gathers and shares information about bumble bee species’ distributions and abundances across Canada and the United States among its community of users.

Submitted Information

Your personal information is voluntarily supplied by you when you register and submit data to Bumble Bee Watch. By registering, you allow us to associate your bumble bee records with a unique identifier (login name or your name) to enable you to track and download your records and build your unique, virtual bumble bee collection. If you submit unusual records, we may request more details through Bumble Bee Watch’s record comment feature or by email, but your email address and contact information will not be sold or distributed outside of Bumble Bee Watch without your permission. Profile Information allows us to improve the web site for Bumble Bee Watch users in a more informed way.

Bumble bee records are the most important pieces of information that we collect. All details of an observation and its associated location (species, numbers, etc.) are available to all users registered with Bumble Bee Watch. However, only information pertaining to bumble bee observations is available to Bumble Bee Watch users; no personal contact information is ever made public.

Photo Copyright

Copyright for all photo vouchers submitted to Bumble Bee Watch are covered under the Creative Commons LicenseAttribution + Noncommercial and applicable Canadian and US Copyright Laws. If submitting or posting another photographer’s photos to Bumble Bee Watch or elsewhere, you should have permission to do so. We will remove photographs if we are informed that appropriate permissions for their use on Bumble Bee Watch have not been obtained or in case of disputes. Bumble Bee Watch administrators are not able to manually check the validity of copyright for every posted photograph.

Injury Liability

As a bumble bee observer or collector, you are fully responsible for your own safety and personal insurance in case of injury. Bumble Bee Watch shall not be liable for damages or injuries you may incur while collecting and observing bumble bees, whether personally or for the purpose of submission to the Bumble Bee Watch database. Please exercise great caution and care in the field when collecting data, including maintaining awareness of your surroundings and of others who are in the field with you. Do not collect on private property without full and informed consent of landowners. Inclusion of children in bumble bee and collection activities should involve full and appropriate supervision by responsible caregivers.

Bumble Bee Collecting / Code of Ethics

Bumble Bee Watch recognizes that collecting bumble bee specimens can be an important aspect of research and is sometimes necessary for scientific study and documentation. While we encourage photo verification for bumble bees, we recognize that not all species can be determined from photographs alone. For more information about how to take photographs of bumble bees, please see this page. However, the collecting of specimens should always be done with appropriate care and precaution. Whether you collect as part of atlassing activities, research, or to add to your personal collection, Bumble Bee Watch recommends that collectors strive to sample a population and not deplete it. We recommend against the practice of collecting queen bumble bees as colony reproductive success is dependent on these animals. Different federal and state agencies have different laws regarding the collection of insects. Please check with the relevant wildlife agency before collecting any animals. Collecting bumble bees is forbidden in some areas, such as provincial, state, or national protected areas, possibly requiring you to obtain permits well in advance of travel. Bumble Bee Watch cannot be held liable for costs incurred because of collection efforts under any circumstances.

Data Access Policy

Bumble Bee Watch encourages researchers and other data users to disseminate findings in appropriate publications, based in whole or in part on Bumble Bee Watch data. Bumble Bee Watch will give appropriate credit to the organization for its contribution(s) to the publication of such findings.

All publication(s) or product(s) using any Bumble Bee Watch data are requested to adhere to the present policy.

Multiple uses of Bumble Bee Watch data

Unless otherwise arranged, any Bumble Bee Watch data are provided to researchers/authors/users with the clear understanding that it will be used specifically for the purposes identified in the request (e.g. proposed publication, graduate thesis). If the researchers/users wish to use the same data for a purpose different from that of the original request, the researchers/authors must re-apply for permission.

Redistribution of the data

Without specific approval, no data provided by Bumble Bee Watch can be distributed beyond the researchers/authors/users requesting the data. Raw data should not be made available for download through the Internet, but derived data (maps, tables) are usually acceptable (though see Private Data below). If you plan to present Bumble Bee Watch data on the Internet, the nature of the visualization(s) must be specified in your data request.

Private Data

Some data in the database are marked as Private by users. The purpose of Private data is to exclude the specific location of the sighting on the maps and data visualization tools available at Bumble Bee Watch (and elsewhere), but we do make these data available to researchers for analysis (when requested). We created this feature for sensitive species uploads, and encourage users to only use the Private check box for that purpose. If the specific location is the concern (e.g. private property, rather than the species being uploaded), we would encourage users to choose a nearby neutral location (park, intersection, public space, ideally within 250 m) for the location of their sighting and then use the appropriate data accuracy code [“How accurate is this location (in meters)”:]. However, no matter the purpose of use of this feature by the original user, nor the final species determination from the verification process, the data marked as Private in the database may be distributed (either raw or derived) without the express permission of the original data provider (the user that uploaded the data to Bumble Bee Watch). We distribute these data on a case by case basis, when the data will be used to advance bumble bee conservation efforts. When distributed, use of the data is restricted as follows: (1) The exact location and point attributes may not be published; (2) The points may be used on a static map as long as the map scale is smaller than or equal to 1:1,000,000; (3) The points may be displayed on an interactive map when the map scale is less than or equal to 1:1,000,000 (except on Bumble Bee Watch where it may display as a random polygon), and no attributes other than the species name, date, and verification status can be displayed. These data may be shared with additional interested parties as long as the conditions outlined here about use of the data follow the records as they are shared.

Approval Process

Please fill out a data request form. Requests for sensitive (not publicly available online) data must be accompanied by a 1-2 page written proposal outlining the nature and topic of the research and submitted to Bumble Bee Watch. If the proposal is acceptable, Bumble Bee Watch staff will approve the data release and inform the researchers/authors. Release of precise geographic locations of species at risk in particular will generally be restricted and only provided when the need has been clearly demonstrated.

Fee for Data

Bumble Bee Watch data accessed through the web site do not normally entail any data processing fees. Requests that require additional manual data extractions or analyses will typically be charged a fee of $75 per hour, $500 per day or $1500 per week to extract and assemble data. Bumble Bee Watch will consider waiving this fee, in part or in full, for project partners and students.

Authorship and Acknowledgements

If a request for data includes proposed research with significant Bumble Bee Watch staff contributions, then agreement on the role of involved staff, joint authorship, and order of authors on publications must be reached before the data are released.

The researchers/authors agree to acknowledge Bumble Bee Watch (as well as the clients or partners when applicable) in all relevant publications using the statement provided below. Bumble Bee Watch review of manuscripts (or parts thereof) before submission to journals is requested as a courtesy, especially in cases where Bumble Bee Watch or client policy or operating practice is a subject of discussion or conclusions.

Bumble Bee Watch data should be cited as follows:

The Xerces Society, Wildlife Preservation Canada, York University, University of Ottawa, The Montreal Insectarium, The London Natural History Museum, BeeSpotter. <year data was extracted>. Data accessed from Bumble Bee Watch, a collaborative website to track and conserve North America’s bumble bees. Available from Accessed: <date>.

In addition, we require that the following statement be included in the acknowledgement section of any publication:

We thank Bumble Bee Watch for supplying data. We would also like to thank all of the volunteer participants who gathered data for the project.

If data retrieved from Bumble Bee Watch are to be used for web-based products (maps, summaries, etc.), you must contact us for instructions on applicable contributor/partner logo(s) and website link(s).


Bumble Bee Watch and its partners retain the copyright on all data provided to researchers/authors/users, unless the copyright has been legally transferred to a client. The Bumble Bee Watch concept and logo are copyright by founders at The University of Ottawa, Wildlife Preservation Canada, and The Xerces Society.

Revocation of Privileges

Any researcher/author/user not abiding by this policy or the terms of the Data Request and Release Form and Publication Agreement may forfeit any future access to Bumble Bee Watch data.