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Sussex scientists encourage “citizen scientists” to study bees

Dr Rob Fowler, the Buzz Club co-ordinator, took this photo of a bee visiting a "bee hotel".

Buzz Club projects include building a “bee hotel” and seeing how well it works.

A new initiative to create a nationwide network of volunteers to find out how populations of bees and other insects are changing is being launched by Sussex life scientists today (Thursday 1 October).

The Buzz Club aims to provide answers to essential questions about the current state of bees and insects in the UK by undertaking nationwide “citizen science” surveys and experiments, where data is collected by volunteers and analysed by Sussex researchers.

Biologist Professor Dave Goulson, bumble bee expert and one of the founders of the Buzz Club, said: “Sadly, many of our pollinators are in decline, and some have become extinct. We need help to find out more about what is happening so that we can better look after them and, wherever possible, reverse these declines.”

The projects, which are suitable for children and adults, include building a “hoverfly lagoon” or “bee hotel” and seeing how well it works, or becoming part of a pan-trapping network to find out which pollinators live in gardens.

The results will not only help inform current conservation, but will also enthuse and inform Buzz Club members about what is living in their own garden, playground, or local park.

Dr Rob Fowler, the Buzz Club co-ordinator, said: “Not only is citizen science a powerful tool that can help provide valuable insight into the lives of bees and insects nationwide, it is also a great way for members of the public to learn more about the fascinating creatures that are right on their doorstep.”

Dr Ellen Rotheray, one of the founders of the Buzz Club and a Research Fellow in the School of Life Sciences, said: "We are attempting to design ways of measuring pollinator diversity, density, and change over time, and in some cases, like that of the Hoverfly Lagoon project, developing and promoting new ways of introducing resources for pollinators in gardens."

Membership involves a small annual or monthly fee, all of which goes to running these projects. A range of new projects will take place each year.

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Posted on behalf of: School of Life Sciences
Last updated: Thursday, 1 October 2015