Durham, N.H. – New England bee enthusiasts will head to Ossipee for the 2017 New England Bee Bioblitz organized by the University of New Hampshire Bee Lab. The event takes place at the Ossipee Pine Barrens June 23-25, 2017, and is free and open to the public.
The Bee Bioblitz is organized by Sandra Rehan, assistant professor of biological sciences and researcher with the NH Agricultural Experiment Station. Rehan is conducting the research project “Sustainable Solutions to Problems Affecting Bee Health” that is assessing for the first time the Granite State’s bee species. Now in its fourth year, the Bee Bioblitz has provided critical information that has allowed Rehan and her lab to be the first to assess the state’s native bee population as well as bees in the White Mountains National Forest.
“The White Mountain National Forest event was well attended, with more than 30 participants from five states, and we discovered 72 additional species to add to our state bee list,” Rehan says.
According to the Nature Conservancy, the Ossipee Pine Barrens were shaped more than 10,000 years ago when retreating ice age glaciers left behind a broad, deep sandy outwash plain. Too dry and nutrient poor to support agriculture or many of the more typical forests of northern New England, areas with these sandy-gravelly soil types became known as “barrens.” The pine barrens ecosystem of Ossipee, Madison, Freedom, and Tamworth is the last relatively large and intact example in New Hampshire. This unique habitat supports a diversity of uncommon wildlife, including nearly two dozen threatened and endangered moths and butterflies – some found nowhere else in New Hampshire. These insects use pitch pine and scrub oak, and understory plants like sweet fern and low-bush blueberry for food and as a place to lay their eggs. The pine barrens also provide very important breeding habitat for several declining bird species like whip-poor-wills, common nighthawk, and the Eastern towhee.
The goals of the Bee Bioblitz are to document the diversity of bee species in the state, with a particular focus on native bees; connect bee researchers across New England; and demonstrate bee surveys and research techniques to interested members of the public and students.
Bees are important pollinators of food crops and natural ecosystems. The value of pollination to agriculture is estimated at more than $200 billion a year worldwide. The abundance of and diversity of pollinators are declining in many agricultural landscapes across the United States. Given this importance, widespread declines in pollinator diversity have led to concern about a global pollinator crisis. The National Research Council has called for regional, national, and international monitoring programs to allow tracking the status and trends of pollinators.
The home base for the event will be the Tamworth Camping Area. Permits are required for collecting so attendees should contact Rehan if they are interested in participating. While the event is free, there are fees associated with lodging and meals. For information on fees, visit http://www.unhbeelab.com/bioblitz.html. Those interested in attending or needing additional information should contact Sandra Rehan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This material is based upon work supported by the NH Agricultural Experiment Station, through joint funding of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 1004515, and the state of New Hampshire.