Help rare pollinators – workshop August 1 (Updated)

Above: This is not your common bumblebee. Identified as bombus fervidus, this is among the type of bees previously thought wiped from Massachusetts landscape, but recently discovered at Breakneck Hill. (Photo posted to flickr by jbaker5)

I could have gone with the headline Save the Breakneck Hill Bees.

It would have gotten attention, but probably not the right kind. After all, how many readers care about bees?

Reminding us that bees are pollinators, one of the stewards of Breakneck Hill Conservation Land hopes quite a few of you care.*

The Worcester Telegram reports that an expert identified three bees at Breakneck Hill as insects previously thought no longer existing in our state.

Freddie Gillespie* of Stewarship (and other town committees) is working with the WPI professor to study the pollinators on the hill. They are seeking adult and teen volunteers to help with the project.

To train volunteers, they are holding a workshop on Saturday, August 1, from 10:00 am – noon at South Union School, 21 Highland Street:


Did you know that many of our native pollinators are in trouble? Disappearing from our landscape?

Southborough is working to help our bees and butterflies with a Pollinator Habitat installation at Breakneck Hill Conservation Land.

We have recently collaborated with Worcester Polytechnic Institute Professor Robert J. Gegear.

Dr Gegear is using Breakneck Hill Conservation Land as a Pilot Project for his research on the interrelationships between pollinators and the plants they feed on.

On August 1st he will be training volunteers to help with the ongoing bumblebee survey at Breakneck Hill Conservation Land. Anyone interested in learning more about our native bumblebees should attend.
It will include a short talk on bumblebee behavior, ecology and species identification. Attendees will also be shown how to photograph bees. Participants will then join Mr. Gegear in searching Breakneck Hill to identify bumblebee species found there.

The training is for adults and older teens.

Anyone interested in the project or to register for the workshop please contact Freddie Gillespie at

The Worcester Telegram followed Dr. Gegear to the hill and covered his findings and hopes:

With rain starting to fall Wednesday morning, Worcester Polytechnic Institute professor Robert J. Gegear was headed back to his car when a small bumblebee on a flower next to the path caught his eye. 

“I found one,” he said. “Bombus fervidus.”

The mostly yellow bumblebee is a rare sight, at least in Massachusetts, and the reason Mr. Gegear, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology and Biotechnology at WPI, is conducting his research in the Breakneck Hill Conservation Area. It is so rare that the state has the species listed as extirpated in the state. The one he found was not in the best of shape stumbling around, its tongue hanging out. Speculation was it was suffering from some type of pathogen. It appeared to be on its last legs and, after a couple of failed attempts to place it on a plant, it was decided to take it back to WPI to study it.

The discovery in Southboro of fervidus and two other species of bumblebee the state has similarly listed as no longer living here, convinced Mr. Gegear it was a perfect place to study the interrelationships between pollinators and the plants they feed on. He is also is beginning to think there may be other missing species that are still here, possibly in higher elevations such as Mount Wachusett.

For the full story, click here.

Updated (7/16/15 10:30 am): I originally posted this as a Stewardship Commitee partnership and workshop. Gillespie clarified that this project isn’t through the committee. (It popped up too quickly to run it through a committee vote.)

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