Science in the Field: Tracking Wild Bumblebees in the Redwoods

Science in the Field: Tracking Wild Bumblebees in the Redwoods

from $1,315 USD per person for 4 days, 3 nights
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  • 12 People Maximum
  • Moderate Activity Level
  • Outdoor Expedition
No dates currently available. Notify me when dates are added.

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Trip Overview
Overview

Redwood National Park is home to some of the tallest and oldest living things on the planet. Some of the trees here have existed for 160 million years, but the forest’s formidable flora would never have reached such great heights without the humble pollinators that tie the ecosystem together. Alongside expert biologists, venture through the towering redwoods to learn about the plight of the bumblebee and help conduct research on the wild, bristly pollinator. The first step to protecting these critical creatures is understanding them, so we’re embarking on a bee-seeking expedition to help identify specimens, track populations, and explore the native wildlife of this extraordinary landscape.

Highlights
  • Citizen science research
  • Hands-on field experience
  • Pollinator conservation
  • Stunning national park views

Itinerary

Itineraries and daily schedules are subject to change. We expect to do everything listed in the itinerary, though the order may be rearranged based on weather or other local conditions.

Trip Leader

Dr. Hollis Woodard
Dr. Hollis Woodard is an Assistant Professor of Entomology at the University of California, Riverside, whose lab studies bumblebee behavior, physiology, and conservation. She and her research group have worked with bumblebees in Israel, the Sierra Nevada, and the northern slope of Alaska, and with solitary bees in the deserts of the Southwest. Her research has been featured in The New York Times and Science Friday.

Additional Info

Arrival & Departure

The Elk Meadow Cabins are located about 60 miles south of the California/Oregon border, on the California side. The two closest airports are the Arcata/Eureka Airport in McKinleyville (Airport Code ACV) and the Crescent City Airport (Airport Code CEC). Airlines servicing ACV include United and Alaska Airlines, Delta. Currently, only United Airlines services CEC. Check-in at the cabins begins at 3 p.m., and we’ll plan to meet at the cabins at 5 p.m. before heading out for dinner on Thursday, May 28, so travelers flying into ACV or CEC Airports should plan to land by 2 p.m.

If you’d like to carpool, or you need help arranging transportation from the airport to the cabins, we’d be happy to help coordinate this in advance.

Our trip concludes the morning of Sunday, May 31. Check-out at the cabins is at 12 p.m., but you’re welcome to depart Redwood National Park at your leisure. If you’re flying out of ACV or CEC, we recommend booking a flight that departs in the late afternoon or evening of the 31st.

Activity Level

This trip will require some physical activity. Participants should be comfortable hiking between two and five miles per day, often in unmarked sections of the valley, and sometimes involving bushwhacking. You'll need sturdy hiking boots as well as protective clothing to prevent cuts and scratches to your arms and legs. We’ll also be spending extended time in the meadow after dark with headlamps and flashlights.

Accommodations

We'll be staying in spacious shared houses at the Elk Meadow Cabins in Redwood National Park. Solo travelers should be prepared to share a room with two twin beds with another traveler of the same gender, depending on the composition of the group. Pairs traveling together will stay in shared rooms outfitted with queen beds. Each cabin has two bathrooms and will accommodate up to six travelers.

Health & Safety

You’ll be in close proximity to, or in contact with, insects. Your researcher-guides are trained in handling these creatures, and they’ll help you learn how to approach the bees we’ll be observing and tracking. However, this trip isn’t recommended if you have a severe allergy to bee venom. It’s also important to note that we’ll be observing the elk mothers and calves from a distance, and you shouldn’t approach them.

Included
  • Three nights of lodging in double-accommodation rooms in spacious, shared cabins at the Elk Meadow Cabins. Single travelers should be prepared to share a room with another traveler of the same gender, depending on the composition of the group.
  • Three dinners, a daily picnic lunch, and additional snacks
  • Trip leadership and expert insight from three bumblebee biologists.
  • Transportation to and from all research sites in four-wheel-drive jeeps.
  • A new headlamp for our after-dark forest excursions.
  • Recommended reading materials, a packing list, and a pre-trip information packet.
  • A great group of fellow Atlas Obscura outdoor enthusiasts, excited to learn more about bumblebee ecology and conservation.
Excluded
  • Flights and transportation to and from Redwoods National Park. Carpooling with your fellow travelers can be arranged in advance, and limited rides from ACV or CEC may be available. 
  • Travel insurance (recommended)
  • Additional meals and drinks outside of Atlas Obscura’s offerings, including all alcoholic beverages with the exception of those listed on the itinerary
  • If applicable, applying for a U.S. visa
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Trip FAQ

A portion of the proceeds from this trip will be donated to The Woodard Lab, a research laboratory studying bumblebee behavior and physiology in rapidly changing and extreme environments. By engaging in citizen science, your time spent tracking bees alongside researchers directly contributes to their work. Additionally, by sharing your experience with friends and family, you can help spread the word about bees' crucial—and threatened—role in our environment and food systems.

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