The American Museum Of Natural History And New York City Department Of Parks And Recreation Enlist New Yorkers To Study Native Bees And Plants



The leaf-cutter bee, a pollinator native to New York City.
Credit: John Ascher, AMNH


The American Museum of Natural History's Center for Biodiversity and Conservation (CBC) and New York City Department of Parks and Recreation's Greenbelt Native Plant Center (GNPC) will team up to study bees native to New York City and the indigenous plants they pollinate. The pilot program will recruit volunteers to collect data and increase public awareness about the importance of bees as natural plant pollinators. The effort will mark the first National Pollinator Week and also comes at a time when the sudden and unexplained disappearance of honeybees has gained media attention nationwide.


"The long history of scientific research at the Museum has helped raise public awareness of the natural world, including New York City's environment," said Eleanor Sterling, Director of the CBC. "Bees are a crucial part of our urban ecosystem. 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 study carried out in San Francisco recently and has been modified to focus on native bees and the plants they pollinate on the East Coast. Approximately 800 species of bees occur east of the Mississippi River and a surprising number (over 200) have been documented in New York City. These bees pollinate flowers and vegetable plants in community gardens, as well as many of the plants growing in city parks and open spaces.


Volunteers from each borough will be given a one-hour orientation and training session the week of June 24 by Liz Johnson, Manager of the CBC's Metropolitan Biodiversity Program, and Ed Toth, Director of the GNPC, in conjunction with the first National Pollinator Week. The GNPC 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.


"These pollinators are crucial to the production of one-third of our nation's food supply and also contribute greatly to the vitality and beauty of our parks and playgrounds in New York City," said Adiran Benepe, Commissioner of New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. "Through our partnership with the American Museum of Natural History's Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, we hope to generate much-needed interest in native bees, the most important pollinators in our urban ecosystem."


The Center for Biodiversity and Conservation
 The Center for Biodiversity and Conservation (CBC), established at the American Museum of Natural History in 1993, is dedicated to the study and conservation of biological diversity. The survival and protection of global biological resources depend on wise policy decisions that are based on scientific knowledge. The CBC draws on the strengths of the Museum's scientific, education, and exhibition departments to integrate this information into the conservation process and to disseminate it widely. Current CBC initiatives include field programs in The Bahamas, Bolivia, Lao PDR, Madagascar and southern Africa, the Pacific Islands, Vietnam, and the U.S. (including the New York City metropolitan area).


Media Inquiries: Department of Communications, 212-769-5800