Citizen scientists urged to get out into nature to support bee-spotting project this Easter

Citizen scientists are being encouraged to escape the house and help University scientists in their quest to track bees this Easter.

As lockdown restrictions ease across Wales, scientists at Cardiff University are asking the public to take part in a biodiversity monitoring project called Spot-a-bee.

They want people to take images of plants and bees on their smartphones and upload them to a dedicated app - which can be downloaded at spotabee.buzz - so bee-friendly areas can be mapped.

The data collected helps scientists to build a map of floral and insect diversity so they can see how it is changing. This in turn helps to inform any action needed to protect local environments.

Professor Les Baillie, from the University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, said: “Like the bees, we humans are re-engaging with nature and all that it has to offer, whether that be in our own back gardens, local parks or further afield.

"Please help us protect these important creatures who play such a key role in keeping Wales a green and pleasant place to live."

Spot-a-bee, which is part of the University’s Pharmabees project, launched last May in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since then, the team has received more than 7,000 images, with some from as far afield as Australia.

“While these responses are encouraging, we’re particularly keen to recruit more Cardiff-based citizen scientists to enrich our local data and understand how urban bees are faring,’ said Professor Baillie.

“We also want people to work with us to increase the biodiversity of the city by planting an experimental seed mix which we’re making available for free in local shops in Grangetown, Cathays and Splott.

“We’ve been working with Cardiff Council to create planters in Fanny Street in Cathays and we’re in the process of recruiting local volunteers to support the project.’

By monitoring bees over many years, scientists can assess the impact of climate change and pollution on local ecosystems and identify which areas of the city might benefit from the introduction of more pollinator-friendly plants.

To find out more about becoming a volunteer, contact Professor Baillie at bailliel@cardiff.ac.uk.


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