Cardiff’s Spot-a-bee creates UK buzz

Citizen scientists across the UK are being urged to map bee-friendly plants using a Spot-a-Bee app developed in Wales and Scotland.

Created by Cardiff University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the University of Glasgow, Spot-a-Bee invites users to submit photos of plants that attract bees in their garden or local area to help plot a map of plant distribution across the UK.

Professor Les Baillie, from Cardiff’s @Pharmabees project which pioneered Spot-a-Bee, said: ““By downloading and using the Spot-a-bee app, people can help us better understand the behaviour of honeybees and the plants they need. We’ve got spotters from northern Scotland to Penzance as we bring citizen science to UK back gardens during lockdown. Spot-a-Bee has grown wings since it began life at Cardiff and we’re delighted to be working with Glasgow to engage a new community of nature lovers.”

Dr Ria Dunkley, from the University of Glasgow’s School of Education, said: “We are wanting to get people to notice the plants that are good for bees around them. You just need to download the app, create an account, then upload photos every time you see a bee on or around a plant, in your garden or in the street. You don’t really need to get far away to engage with nature, you can engage with it all around you.”

Dr Dunkley added: “We hope the launch of the app in Scotland will brighten the lockdown period a bit by getting people to do something quite interactive.”

The app will also enable people to connect with others interested in bees and nature around the country as a member of the Spot-A-Bee community. It is hoped the data gathered through the app will be useful for conservation as it will provide information about plants that bees like and could encourage planting of them to create beefriendly habitats.

The information could also help with Professor Baillie’s @Pharmabees research into the anti-microbial properties of honey.

Dr Dunkley said they are also developing a learning pack for children and their families who want to help bees by looking after their homes, which will be sent out to people who get in touch via Twitter @ISpotABee, or on Instagram or Facebook.

The app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play.­lbALgB0TM5g