Bee Watch invites the community to participate in science

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BOISE, Idaho – At 14 locations around Treasure Valley, new installments invite you to take part in science.

Bee Watch, a brand new program from the City of Boise Parks and Recreation Department, encourages community scientists to help collect data on native bee species.

“There is not enough time and capacity in the scientific community to be everywhere at once. And so, by using community scientists, maybe we can understand a greater diversity of bees,” Parks & Rec Foothills Restoration Specialist Martha Brabeck told Idaho News 6.

Brabeck said that while it’s common knowledge that pollinators in general are dealing with declining populations, little is known about the region’s native bee species. So the department is reaching out to the community to better understand the tiny flying insects that ecosystems depend on.

Participating in Bee Watch as a citizen scientist is meant to be easy. Simply scan the QR code at any of the 14 Bee Box locations, then spend 15 minutes observing the box taking notes or photos of what you see.

“We want people to choose their own adventure. So if you want to go to the box here at the Foothills Learning Center, you can go here and then you can go to the Lake Hazel Library one and maybe see if there is a difference in the types of bees you observe during the study program,” Brabeck said.

There are options for your scientific enterprise. Sign up to be an official volunteer or visit one of the sites to participate as you wish. After observing the box, you can extend your expedition to the surrounding area in search of pollinators.

“We recommend people go in the morning simply because that’s often when the bees are active,” Brabeck said.

Each year the boxes will be replaced, but as a pilot project, Parks & Rec’s main priority is to test the success of the program.

“So we were curious if A) our restoration efforts are increasing bee diversity and B) what kind of bees are actually out there at sites where there are a lot of invasive species,” Brabeck said, “We would like to know which bees use which types of sites. Do the bees use pollinator gardens, do they use green parks, are they in open space restoration sites and things like that.”

After your experience, upload all photos to iNaturalist and complete the city’s survey of your sightings.

For more information on Bee Watch, click here.

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