In The Field

ESA 2009: Where you at, bee?

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How many bee species do you think live in New York City? Would you believe 227? You would if you heard Kevin Matteson of Fordham University give his talk on urban pollination in the Big Apple.

Most of those bees, he admits, are rare, or live in parks. But a surprisingly tough cohort of bees, wasps and flies do make their living buzzing around the flowers planted in postage-stamp gardens in Brooklyn or window boxes on cafes in Manhattan.

Matteson found, though, that 40% of the flowers they are visiting are the kind you buy at a big hardware store like Home Depot. They are showy, pest-resistant, and often sterile. That means that while the urban pollinators are there, ready to spread the floral love around the five boroughs, there are no plants taking them up on the offer.

He also mentioned that many of the cities rarest insects live in the often scrubby and exotic “meadows” that dot the city—some of which may be targeted for removal under the city’s highly praised Million Trees campaign.

This bee isn’t from NYC but from Missouri. If any wild bee fans want to tell me what kind of bee it is, I’d be thrilled to know.

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