It might be winter, but I am already busy planning for the summer. More specifically, it’s almost time to launch Backyard Biodiversity in South Dakota for 2014. The purpose of the Backyard Biodiversity project is to engage people all over South Dakota in monitoring pollinators and other beneficial insects in their immediate environment. Honey bees and other native pollinators are in the news so frequently, and many people are interested in taking a more active role to help them. This project is a way for anyone interested in pollinators and pollinator conservation to be involved in learning more about these important insects.
You don’t need to be a professional entomologist to participate in Backyard Biodiversity! Last year, 19 South Dakotans submitted observations, bee bowl catches or both. That effort resulted in the observation of ~550 pollinator visits to flowers and over 400 insects captured in bee bowls.
The monitoring protocol for this project is simple – watch the flowering plants in your backyard for 20 minutes at a time once every two weeks (or weekly, if you’re so inclined). The observations should start as close to June 1 as possible and end Sept 30. In addition to the visual observations, which are recorded on a paper data sheet, you can also set out bee bowl traps (that I provide) once a month in June, July and August. Bee bowls are a passive trapping method that gives a more detailed look at what insects are showing up at a site. The insects that are caught in the bee bowls will be pinned, identified, and added to research and teaching collections.
Three training webinars for Backyard Biodiversity are scheduled for the spring, the first being March 17. The April 15 webinar will cover bee identification, and the May 12 event will go over yard and garden pest management with bees in mind. All three webinars will begin at 4 PM Central and the sessions will be recorded. The participation links will be posted soon on in the iGrow Events section. If you are a Master Gardener, participating in this project counts towards your volunteer hours.
If you are interested in being part of Backyard Biodiversity for 2014, please email Amanda Bachmann or call (605-773-8120) to be added to the project contact list.