Recent events

We hope you visited us at the Harvard Museum of Natural History's Insect Planet Family Festival!

Recent explorations

News pictureWhat can pollinators tell us about climate change? We initiated a volunteer-based pilot bee monitoring project in the Boston Harbor Islands national park area...More

Long-lost beetle rediscovered after more than 100 years

A tiny ground beetle, Bembidion nigropiceum, not seen in North America since the late 1800s, has resurfaced on the Boston Harbor Islands...More

Bee monitoring project


What can pollinators tell us about climate change? In late April, 2010 we initiated a volunteer-based pilot bee monitoring project in the park. Over the spring, summer, and fall we used 16 "bee bowl" transects on nine islands to capture bees and other pollinators. By establishing baseline data on bee diversity in the park (more than 150 species!) we can then monitor change in abundance and diversity over the next several decades. As climate conditions change over time, we can let the bees inform us about potential effects on plant pollination.

Why monitor pollinators?
  • Native bees are diverse and abundant
  • Bees are recognized to be ecologically and economically important in their role as plant pollinators
  • Bee populations are vulnerable to large-scale stressors such as climate change and habitat alteration
  • Bees are easy to sample in a consistent, repeatable manner
  • Bee sampling and processing (but not  identification) can be done by volunteers, technicians, inmates…
  • Statistically rigorous bee sampling designs have been developed that allow detection of small changes (2-5%) in bee abundance and richness over 5 to 10 years
  • At a minimum, an ATBI can establish baseline data for future surveys
  • Sampling could be adapted to park, regional, or national scales (potential collaboration with I and M networks)

All photos courtesy of Rebecca Montgomery of the National Park Service