New project calls on ‘citizen scientists’ to help understand the lives and habits of the capital’s insects

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

 

Hundreds of in London have been fitted with “licence plates” as part of a project to uncover the secret lives of the insects.

The London Pollinator Project aims to understand which parts of the capital are hotspots and what types of flowers the creatures like best.

Bee-spotters are being asked to take pictures of the 500 tagged insects, with prizes given to the best photos to sweeten the deal.

“The fact that the bees have individual ‘licence plates’ will allow anyone interested to develop their own science project and ask scientific questions about the behaviour of bees,” said Professor Lars Chittka of Queen Mary University of London, which is leading the project.

“Citizen scientists might be intrigued to see the same bee return to their balcony and might record when during the day, how many times and which flowers they prefer. They may be curious about what these regular visits tell us about a bee’s memory for places and why certain bees prefer particular colour flowers.”

“The project has already encouraged Londoners to plant flowers that are rich in nectar and pollen, like English lavender, viper’s bugloss, or spiked speedwell,” reports Phys.org website. “Once the bees are released, the researchers will be able to see how successful urban gardening efforts have been.”

Professor Dave Goulson, a bee expert at the University of Sussex, told the Daily Telegraph: “Britain’s bees are facing multiple threats, from loss of flower meadows and quiet places to nest, and from the many pesticides used in most modern farming.”

“The good news is that we can all play a part in helping them. Making our gardens and allotments more friendly to bees is easy to do and can help make a real difference.”

Friends of the Earth bee campaigner Dave Timms agreed, saying: “By choosing the right plants, avoiding pesticides and allowing patches to grow wild we can make a real difference to these crucial .”

 

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