New 'citizen science' opportunity hits Boise area: Bee Watch

Bee Box located at Foothills Learning Center
Posted at 3:53 PM, May 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-10 18:41:52-04

BOISE, Idaho — At 14 spots around the Treasure Valley, new installments invite you to take part in science.

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

“There isn't enough time and capacity in the scientific community to be everywhere all at once. And so by utilizing community scientists, we can maybe understand a larger breadth of bee diversity," said Martha Brabeck, Parks & Rec Foothills Restoration Specialist.

Brabeck said although it's common knowledge that pollinators-at-large face declining populations, little is known about the bee species native to the area. So, the department is turning to the community to better understand the tiny flying insects ecosystems rely on.

Participation in Bee Watch as a citizen scientist is meant to be easy. Simply scan the QR code at any one of the 14 Bee Box sites then spend 15 minutes observing the box taking notes or pictures 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 one to Lake Hazel Library and perhaps see if there's a difference in the types of bees that you observe when doing the study program," Brabeck said.

There are options to your scientific venture. Either sign up to be an official volunteer or visit any one of the sites to participate at your leisure. After observing the box, you can expand your expedition to the surrounding area to look for pollinators.

“We recommend that people go in the morning just because that's often when bees are active," Brabeck said.

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

“We were curious if A) our restoration efforts are increasing bee diversity and B) what kind of what kind of bees are actually out there in sites where there's a lot of invasive species,” Brabeck said, “we'd like to know what bees are utilizing what types of sites. Are bees using pollinator gardens, are they using green parks, are they in open space restoration sites and things like that."

After your experiment, upload any pictures to iNaturalist and complete the city’s survey on your observations.

For more information on Bee Watch, click here.