Science in the Field: Tracking Wild Bumblebees in Sequoia
Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Penaloza
Photo Credit: Photo by Krzysztof Niewolny

Science in the Field: Tracking Wild Bumblebees in Sequoia

from $1,315 USD per person for 4 days, 3 nights
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  • 12 People Maximum
  • Moderate Activity Level
  • Outdoor Expedition
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Trip Overview

Venture into the open meadows of the Sierra Nevada and learn firsthand about the plight of the humble bumblebee. Alongside expert biologists, we’ll journey deep into Sequoia National Park to spot, study, and help conduct research on these small but mighty pollinators. The first step to protecting them is understanding them, so we’ll be embarking on an immersive bee-seeking expedition to help identify specimens, track populations, and explore the native wildlife of this spectacular landscape.

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


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 Silver City Resort is located roughly 2.5 hours from Fresno, California. Check-in at the resort begins at 3 p.m., and we'll plan to meet at the resort restaurant at 6 p.m. for dinner, so travelers flying into Fresno Airport should plan to land by 2 p.m on Day 1. If you’d like to carpool, we’d be happy to help coordinate this in advance.

Our trip concludes the morning of Day 4. Check-out at the resort is at 12 p.m., but you’re welcome to depart Sequoia at your leisure. If you’re flying out of Fresno, we recommend booking a flight that departs in the late afternoon or evening of Day 4. 

Activity Level

This trip will require some physical activity. Travelers 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 forest after dark with headlamps and flashlights.


We'll be staying in spacious, shared chalets at the Silver City Resort in Sequoia 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 chalet has one bathroom and will accommodate six travelers.

Health & Safety

You’ll be in close proximity to, or in contact with, insects and arthropods. 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 that you not touch the bioluminescent millipedes, which secrete cyanide.

Note that much of our trip takes place between 6,600 and 7,200 feet (2,012 to 2,195 meters), which can make activity more physically demanding. Altitude affects some more than others; if you’re sensitive to altitude, we encourage you to arrive a day or two early to acclimate.

  • Three nights of lodging in double-accommodation rooms in a spacious shared chalet, or private studio rooms in the Silver City Mountain Resort for couples traveling together. 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 collection 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.
  • Flights and transportation to and from the Silver City Resort. Carpooling with your fellow travelers can be arranged in advance.
  • If arriving by air, flights to and from Fresno, California, then transport to and from the Silver City Mountain Resort in Mineral King, California.
  • Travel insurance (recommended).
  • Additional meals and drinks outside of Atlas Obscura offerings, including one dinner and 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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Upcoming Departures

  • Jun 24–Jun 27, 2021
    from $1,315
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