The mysterious and alarming collapse of honeybee populations throughout the United States has prompted a new local study of the phenomenon.
The Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and the Greenbelt Native Plant Center at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation are joining forces to study bees native to the city, and the indigenous plants they pollinate. The pilot program will recruit volunteers to collect data and spread the word about the key role bees play in pollinating plants.
In case you forgot to mark it in your calendar, National Pollinator Week began on Sunday. The week is designed to promote the health of resident and migratory pollinating animals.
“Bees are a crucial part of our urban ecosystem,” said Eleanor Sterling, director of the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation. “We are very pleased to be collaborating with Parks to examine the relationship between the city’s native bees and plants.”
The project is modeled on a similar recent study carried out in San Francisco and has been modified to focus on East Coast bees and plants. About 800 species of bees are found east of the Mississippi River and a surprising number — more than 200 — have been documented in New York City.
Throughout the week, Liz Johnson, manager of the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation’s metropolitan biodiversity program, and Ed Toth, director of the Greenbelt Native Plant Center, are giving volunteers a one-hour orientation and training session. The natural history museum said in a news release:
The G.N.P.C. will distribute six native, bee-pollinated flowering plants to volunteers, which they will be directed to plant in a sunny location in their own backyards. Twice per month over the summer and fall, the volunteers will observe how long it takes for bees to discover the plants and which bee species visit their flowers. Data from the pilot period will be analyzed by Johnson, Toth, and other project advisors, and the results will be released sometime during the winter.