This is a guest blog post from the Spot-a-Bee project.
In these challenging times, when we are spending more time in our homes and neighbourhoods than many of us may have imagined possible, we at Spot-a-Bee have worked to develop a family learning approach, centred around the Spot-a-Bee citizen science project.
The Spot-a-Bee project was designed with three key aims in mind: to enable people of all ages to learn more about pollination processes, as well as to contribute to scientific research and to thereby enhance positive outcomes in terms of the availability of habitats and food sources for bees. The project is a collaboration between researchers at the School of Education at Glasgow University and the School of Pharmacy at Cardiff University.
Spot-a-Bee asks people living in the United Kingdom to observe the plants, trees, shrubs and flowers all around them. If people spot a bee on one of these, either when they are out for a walk, or when they are in their gardens, we ask them to take a photograph of the plant, preferably featuring the bee in the photograph (though this is not always possible, as bees can be swift!). Once people have downloaded and registered on the Spot-a-Bee App, they can upload a record of their bee spot, which would include the photograph, the name of the flower and bee (if known) and a few details about the conditions of the day.
The record is then shown alongside all other records upon a map of bee sightings, for which there are now hundreds across the United Kingdom.
In setting up the project, we had been inspired by reading about urban ecology and once awakened to the fact that pollination processes were happening all around us, we wanted others to experience the joy of recognising how we are interconnected in a giant web of living things, even if it sometimes feels as though we’re living in the middle of a concrete jungle!
Following a successful crowd-funder and through gaining additional support through the University of Glasgow and Cardiff University, we have developed a Mobile App, which since it started up a in early May has received 600 sightings. Some of these sightings have come from the United States and Europe, which is great and has made us think about how we might expand the scope and scale of the project.
The photographs that people are submitting are of a great quality, and it is fascinating to observe the plants that are most popular with bees, as well as with people, living in the UK, while the fact that people have started to submit records from other countries such as the US and Austria, means that we have the opportunity to see plants and bee species that we are less familiar with – the opportunity for learning here, is therefore expanded through the unique contributions and also the discussions that contributors can have through commenting on each other’s photographs. Another unexpected joy of the project is people sharing local plant lore’s and nicknames amongst the community.
We have also developed an Activity Pack for children and their families, which is full of fun facts and things to do. In doing so, we hope to make a small contribution to making the days a little bit brighter for children and their families and that we might contribute to home-schooling activities that many families now find themselves involved in across the UK. The Activity Pack also includes a Bee-friendly Wildflower Seed Mix, which you can plant in your garden or in a pot and watch grow.
Download the Spot-a-Bee App:
You are invited to submit photos of plants that bees buzz around in gardens or local spaces via the Spot-a-Bee App, which can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play. Explore Spot-a-Bee on SciStarter.
To receive a free Spot-a-Bee Activity Pack:
If you’d like to receive a free activity pack in the post, please get in touch with your name and postal address either by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or through sending us a direct message on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Contact details, Website and Social Media links:
Dr Ria Dunkley, School of Education, University of Glasgow
Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/spot.abee