Project Bee Watch:  Citizen Science

     The decline of pollinators around the world has potential negative consequences for agriculture and ecological health. Pollinators include a wide variety of species including bees, butterflies, and beetles. These species are crucial to the transfer of pollen between flowers, which allow many wildflowers and agricultural crops to reproduce. The Center for Biological Diversity reports that more than half of native bees are declining in North America, with 1 in 4 at risk of extinction.
     Project Bee Watch is a citizen science initiative, which began in 2018 in partnership with Allegheny Land Trust. Since then, the project has expanded to include partners with Latodami Nature Center (Allegheny County Parks), Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, and Allegheny County Parks Foundation. The goals of the project are to collect baseline records of the abundance and diversity of pollinators in Allegheny County, assist our partners with recommendations on habitat improvement for pollinators, and educate the community on the importance of protecting pollinators and their habitats. The scope of the project is local, to ensure there is a "human connection" with the volunteers.
     Project Bee Watch is the first known study in the United States to use citizen scientists to gather comprehensive data on all insect pollinators in a predominantly urban environment. Citizen scientists are trained on how to survey pollinators, then conduct independent surveys between May and October on the abundance and diversity of pollinators and which wildflowers they visit. Surveys are conducted on properties managed by our partners, to ensure that the data only reflect meadows which are protected for their natural resources. The data is collected, analyzed, and disseminated by Professor Matthew Opdyke at Point Park University. Funding to implement the project was awarded by Point Park University's Department of Community Engagement and Center for Inclusive Excellence.

Training Materials for Citizen Scientists

Educational Impact

     To date, nearly 100 students and citizen scientists from the community have participated in the project. They are actively engaged in surveying for pollinators and serving as ambassadors in educating others about the importance of protecting pollinators and their habitats. The data is openly shared with our partners, community members, and students.
 

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