From the writer:
At the beginning of June 2011, I began working in the Farrell lab at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology documenting the bees of the Arnold Arboretum. This blog is simply a place for me to document my findings, big and small, and to reflect on the incredible diversity of this mini forest in Boston. Although it was founded for the appreciation and research of plants, it has become somewhat of a haven for wildlife of all sorts. (For more information about the Arnold Arboretum, please visit
I really encourage anyone and everyone to follow this blog. I will be learning as I document, so people of all knowledge-levels will find something of interest here. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me with any questions you have about this project!
A note from Professor Brian Farrell:
How many kinds of bees are there in a small patch of green in an American neighborhood? 10, 50,150? Very few people could even hazard a guess, and almost no one knows the answer–for bees or any other kind of small animal (or plant or fungus) for that matter. We aim to discover how many species of bees there are in the Arnold Arboretum, an urban ecosystem. We draw on our experience in a 5 year study of the insects of the Boston Harbor Islands National Park, a collaboration with the National Park Service and the Island Alliance. There are over 170 different species of bees on these nearby islands. Almost all are native, wild bee species that pollinate over five hundred plant species found there as well. Even with this experience, we really have no idea whether the Arnold Arboretum will have more species, possibly because it is on the mainland where many more species are found, or fewer because it is surrounded by a city rather than open water. The land area is roughly comparable. The fields and forest of the Arnold Arboretum encompass some 235 acres, while the largest of the Boston Harbor Islands is Long Island, at some 210 acres, followed by Peddocks Island at 182 acres, and Thompson Island at 133 acres.
It is hard to over-estimate the importance of bees to the ecological and economic health of ecosystems worldwide. Their diversity makes them natural subjects for evaluating the condition of an ecosystem, and their biology, ranging from behavior (solitary or social) to bacterial symbionts, make them versatile subjects for research. Islands of all kinds, whether surrounded by water or concrete, low valleys or high mountains, offer a natural laboratory for study of ecological communities, and they offer opportunities for collaborative research for students and citizen scientists of all ages. One thing is certain, there will be new and exciting discoveries to be made among the bees of the Arnold Arboretum, and the process of discovery and documentation will be as interesting and important as the science itself.