Saving native bees with citizen science: Help or hindrance?
One response to bee declines has been the development of “bee hotels”. Often sold as ready-made or Do-It-Yourself projects to save native bees, these hotels are fitted with tubes made from bamboo, reeds, wood, plastic, or rolled paper tubes. Until now, there has been little data about whether this design helps or hinders native bees.
Biology PhD student Scott MacIvor and his supervisor biology Professor Laurence Packer’s new article in PloS-One provides an answer.
The pair of scientists set up 200 “bee hotels” throughout the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) for three years, with the help of hundreds of interested citizens and organizations. Of more than 27,000 bees and wasps identified, only one quarter were native bees. More than half were wasps, and the remaining quarter were introduced bees.
The findings suggest that bee hotels may serve as a source of increased mortality for native bees while permitting their replacement by invasive species.
“The majority of native bees nest in the ground and aren’t supported by bee hotels, says Laurence Packer. “The solution to saving native bees is partially found under our feet and in the soil.”
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