Frontera Land Alliance

Bee Biodiversity Initiative

Thunder Canyon

Bee Biodiversity Initiative:

On March 14, Frontera hosted a meeting for potential partners to learn more about the Bee Biodiversity Initiative of the Southwest. Bashira Chowdhury and Dr. Charles Ray (Auburn University) shared details about their efforts and desire for collaboration on the study of native bees, but this multi-year study is much more than that. These scientists are starting out their sampling at Resler Canyon, so if you see them on the ground out there then please shout out a big “Hi!”

Goals of the Bee Biodiversity Initiative:

1. Understand bee abundance and diversity in the El Paso region: the Chihuahuan Desert is a diversity hotspot for bees (potentially the most diverse area for bees in North America). Goal is to learn more about this diversity and improve land-use decisions to preserve it.

2. Preserve and promote bio-cultural heritage of pollination: There is an incredibly rich agricultural heritage in the Chihuahuan Desert with our squash, bean, and pepper diversity all due to sustainable plant-pollinator management by indigenous cultures. The investigators will document this heritage and work with local partners to preserve this diversity along with the ecological connections to many of these wild crop pollination systems. The research goes beyond food crops; we are looking at fiber and medicinal crop progenitors as well.

3. Urban pollination: Urban environments offer unique places to understand pollinator nesting and foraging habits, and because of the way that land is used in urban areas, cities may offer refuges for rare bees. We want to understand El Paso’s bee diversity as well as how we can coordinate with local land owners on the best way to manage city lands for bees.

4. Next Steps: The team from Auburn University will return to El Paso in May. We’ll let you know the details about the presentation they will give to the public, where you can learn about our native bees, how to attract them to your home and much more.

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