The Great Bee Count

Permaculture magazine
Monday, 20th April 2015

From 1-31st May, the Great British Bee Count will encourage UK citizens to count their local bees, to help produce a national picture of bee populations.

The Great British Bee Count is back for 2015.

Over 23,000 people took part in last year's count - which featured on BBC's Springwatch - spotting more than 830,000 bees.

This year's count runs from 1-31st May and will be much easier to be a part of.

As bee populations continue to decline, a national picture is needed to help inform science and government policy. The Great British Bee Count aims to provide an annual picture of national bee populations while also raising citizen awareness of bee diversity.

Last year's results showed higher numbers of bees being found on allotments, with roadsides having the lowest count.

Yellow and black bumblebees were the most spotted bee across all regions, with 304,857 sightings. Honey bees were the second most sighted, with 42% seen in rural areas, 30% in suburban areas and 28% in urban.

Organisers, Friends of the Earth, Waitrose and Buglife have been working with scientists to make this the world's biggest bee citizen science project and have developed new and exciting features so that the data collected is even more robust.

Bee expert Professor Dave Goulson said: "It is fantastic that the Great British Bee Count got 23,000 people out looking at our wild bees last year, let's hope for even more in 2015. The idea of including photo uploads this year is really important as it will allow the records to be checked by experts."

Photography will play a big part this year with participants being encouraged to upload pictures of any bees they see.

The data collected will be used by experts investigating the plight of bees and the steps needed to help them. More than 20 UK bee species are already extinct and about a quarter of the remaining 267 species are at risk.

Data can be uploaded via the free app or the website. To find out more about the Great British Bee Count 2015, including how to take part, click on to: www.greatbritishbeecount.co.uk

Paul de Zylva, Friends of the Earth's senior nature campaigner was pleased with 2014's turnout: "It was great to see so many people getting outside and taking part in the Great British Bee Count last year. It shows that people care about the future of bees and are willing to help out to protect them."

"This is a great example of citizen science. It's informative, easy to use - and great fun too."

In November last year the Government published its National Pollinator Strategy (NPS), following successful pressure from Friends of the Earth's Bee Cause campaign. The NPS was the first national action plan to cover all the challenges bees face, and the first to cover all UK bees (and other pollinators), not just wild bees. The NPS was welcomed by Friends of the Earth, but the environment charity is still pushing for it to be strengthened in certain key areas, such as pesticide-use.

Further resources

Keeping Bees in Towns and Cities

The flow hive from the Barefoot Beekeeper's perspective

Taking Flowers Underground - Wildflowers in the urban environment

Defra Accused of Bad Science Regarding Neonicotinoids Research Used to Counter EU Vote

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