Standardized option: the basics
Just as in the regular option, the BeeSpotter takes photos of bees and sends them to us, with info on site, date, and photographer. The only difference from the regular option is that, here, the Spotter also makes a note of the time of day when the photos were taken, the general weather conditions during the shoot, and the length of time spent photographing. Then, this same photo shoot is repeated every year at (as nearly as possible) the same "biological" time (explained below), under the same conditions, for as long as the Spotter is able and willing to repeat it. Doing the shoot on the same plants, with the flowers at the same stage, each year, is also important. So, things to consider in planning to submit photos under the standardized option are that you should select a site that you’ll have convenient access to over a number of years and that will have the same individual plants (or kinds of plants) over a number of years.
Here is an example, with a few guidelines that are intended to answer some questions that might come up, about how to proceed. Let's say that, in your first year as a BeeSpotter, April 17 is a nice warm sunny day, the willow tree in your back yard is in full bloom, and the bees are buzzing. So, you go out and photograph bees on your willow flowers from 1:00pm to 1:30pm, and send the photos and accompanying information to BeeSpotter. But then, come the following year, on April 17, your willow tree hasn't even started to flower (which is very possible; we all know about "early" versus "late" years). Should you go out and photograph the bare tree from 1:00pm-1:30pm, because it is April 17? No; simply wait until the tree is at about the same stage of flowering as it was during last year's photo shoot (that's easy to determine: just look at the photos from last year!), and then pick a day on which weather conditions are about the same as they were (as noted and recorded by you) during the original shoot, and do your second year's 30-minute photo session then. The idea is to shoot on the same "biological" date each year, regardless of strict calendar date. Of course, there might be years in which (especially if your shoot takes place either very early or very late in the season), during the period when the flowers of interest are in bloom, there isn't a single day on which weather conditions are simlar to those of the other years' photo shoots (this is always one of the perils of field work!). In that case, the best you can do is pick the day on which the weather appears to be the closest match, do the shoot as usual, and make a note that the weather was different (and how so) from that of the other years in the series.
As mentioned above, we ask that you designate as such any photos that you submit under the standardized option. Let's keep this simple. If you do one standardized photo effort each year, please submit the photos from the first year as a group that is labeled "Standardized Sample 1, Year 1"; then, a year later, submit the photos from the second year's shoot as a group labeled "Standardized Sample 1, Year 2"; and so on. And of course, you are welcome to do more than one standardized shoot each year. If you do that, just designate the different photo sets by assigning them different sample numbers, so that, from year to year, "willow tree in back yard" is always Standardized Sample 1, "goldenrod meadow across road from home" is always Standardized Sample 2, and so on. If you do this, it will be a big help to us in keeping things organized; THANKS!
Under the standardized option, the goal is to photograph bees for the same length of time, at the same time of day, in the same place, on the same flowers, under the same weather conditions, on the same "biological" date (regardless of what the calendar date might be), over the course of a number of successive years. That way, each year's photo "sample" will come as close as possible to representing the same thing, biologically (in other words, the samples will be "standardized" to the greatest degree possible), which will allow the samples from over the years to be compared as a series of like items, toward an end of learning about the status of Illinois bees over an extended period of time.