Help Make Gonzaga’s Campus a Happy Place for Native Bees

A bee on a purple flower
Photo by Michael Tsuchida (Biology, Class of '23)

June 16, 2023
Gonzaga University News Service

Gonzaga’s location abutting the Spokane River is home to all manner of critters and creatures making their presence felt on the campus’s walkways, in its trees and in the environs around Lake Arthur. Birds are abundant, marmots poke their heads up around the Centennial Trail, and the GU squirrels have their own Instagram account (@gusquirrelsofficial).

Rising senior Sophie O’Shei is working on a project this summer to document some of the smallest inhabitants of the Gonzaga community, the bees and other pollinators who make themselves at home from roughly April through early September, when campus is at its quietest. And O’Shei is hoping the people who work and recreate on campus can lend a hand in identifying the pollinators for her senior honors thesis.

O’Shei, a biology major from Bend, Oregon, says she hopes to get as many people as possible to take photos of pollinators on flowers and plants around campus for the public science project. The more people who submit photos and information via her handy link and the iNaturalist app, the better the data she’ll have to work with as she pursues two main goals.

“One is just to see what types of pollinators we have on campus and get a more comprehensive view of those pollinators and what kinds of populations we’re looking at,” O’Shei says. “Number two is to hopefully get a better grasp on what kinds of plants we have around here that the different pollinators prefer. Potentially, if we get enough data, we could share that with the grounds crew and then they could make choices that could support native pollinators in the future.”

Anyone wanting to take part can either take photos of bees, moths, butterflies, wasps, even hummingbirds and upload observations to the iNaturalist website, or take the photos directly into the iNaturalist app, which can simultaneously record the time and geo-location at the time you see that buzzy little beast bouncing among the campus flowers.

“If you’re having trouble identifying, ‘is this a pollinator? is it not a pollinator?’ if it’s hanging out on a flower, it’s probably a pollinator,” O’Shei says.

O’Shei will be gathering data “basically until the pollinators decide they’re done for the season,” which is likely a week or two into September. She hopes the “vast majority” of observations will be made by GU community members and friends because “I want this to be an opportunity for people to see what data collection is like and be able to contribute to a project that hopefully can have some broader implications on campus.”

If you’re interested in joining the pollinator-identification team, visit O’Shei’s project website at

Explore the campus pollinator project