Spot a colorful bee, collect some cash

John Aaron,

WASHINGTON – It’s the annual “Marking of the Bees” at George Washington University, and for those who aren’t terrified of the creatures, a chance encounter with one could mean a free gift card.

George Washington University students marked the backs of more than 300 bees with orange, red, purple, white, blue and green dots. Those bees live among the eight hives on the school’s campus, but come and go as they search for food.

Throughout the next month, residents who spot one of the special bees can tweet a photo to @FFBees to win a $10 Founding Farmers gift card. They’ll also be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a $500 gift card.

Professor Hartmut Doebel hopes the contest will foster new knowledge of bees in places like D.C.

“We know how far bees can forage,” Doebel says. “But we think in a city they may actually not fly very far at all, so we would be really surprised to get a call in of a bee three or five miles away.”

Heidi Wolff, a student researcher and beekeeper at George Washington University, also hopes to educate the public about bees and their importance to the ecosystem.

“Bees really are a priceless item,” says Wolff. This is because many food items would be significantly more expensive if bees weren’t available to pollinate plants.

Wolff’s advice to any bee skeptics: “Don’t be afraid, they’re just doing their job. Just enjoy how cute they are.”

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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