Help the bees with your smartphone

The public is being asked to take any opportunity they can to photograph bees and then upload the pictures to a smartphone app that will send data to scientists that are launching a nationwide study to help learn the pollination habits of bees. The end hope is to protect the bees’ natural habitat by learning more about them.

Waitrose the supermarket chain is backing the citizen project that is being presented in collaboration with Earthwatch who helped to create the free app. The app allows smartphone users to collect data about any hoverflies, bees, beetles, or other pollinating insect that they see in their garden. They are also asked to list what plants the insects seem to frequent the most.

All of the data that is collected will then be aggregated by a team at the University of Sussex that plans to create a national picture on current pollinator activity in order to help figure out a better and safer future for bees. By knowing what flowers and plants bees are attracted to people can then be encouraged to grow them in their gardens. This will in turn hopefully help repopulate the bee population which has been in a severe decline over the last couple of years.

The data that is compiled by the University of Sussex will also be analysed by the Laboratory of Apiculture and Social insects at the University; which is the largest UK group that studies honey bees.

The very first phase of this project was designed to perfectly time with the flowering season in the UK which kicked off to a cold start but is now finally under way properly. The free app is available for download on both Ios and Android devices and is called Bee-Friend Your Garden. Scientists are hoping for hundreds of thousands of observations to be recorded.