Earthwatch is known for enabling volunteers to participate in research in far-off locations worldwide, but if you live in the United Kingdom, you can also be a citizen scientist in your own back garden, thanks to an Earthwatch app.
Developed by Earthwatch in partnership with Waitrose and the Crown Estate, Bee-Friend Your Garden, the Bee-Friendly app, is a critical component in what could be the biggest pollinator study ever.
Users download Bee-Friend Your Garden and monitor the numbers and types of insects seen on the bushes and flowers in individual gardens around once a week. The data will become part of a project at the University of Sussex to gain important information about pollinators and the plants that they are attracted to.
The Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI) is working to extend practical knowledge about honeybees and social insects to beekeepers, industry, land managers, teachers, and others.
WORKING WITH WAITROSE AND THE CROWN ESTATE
Life for pollinating insects such as bees, butterflies, and moths is increasingly difficult, with the numbers of many species in severe decline.
We need insects to pollinate the crops that we rely on every day for our food. Without pollinators, the cost of manual pollination would be immense, severely impacting food prices. This makes the issue very relevant to the supermarket Waitrose and the Crown Estate—one of the biggest agricultural landowners in the U.K.
As well as building upon existing bee projects across the Crown Estate’s portfolio, the organization will be inspiring employees, managing agents, partners, and customers to take part by offering them the chance to go on a one-day Earthwatch “bee-friendly” course at Sussex University and work with the scientists who are making this project happen.
EARTHWATCH RESEARCH ON POLLINATORS
This innovative initiative complements other Earthwatch research on pollinators. On the Earthwatch project Butterflies and Bees in the Indian Himalayas, volunteers can work in Himalayan apple orchards, where their observations of plants, bees, and butterflies may help protect the region’s sustainable agriculture in the face of climate change.
Earthwatch has worked on a project in Costa Rica in partnership with a coffee-farming cooperative to change management strategies and provide technical assistance and education to the cooperative’s 2,600-strong workforce. Earthwatch scientists have researched the effect of various plantation shade trees on biodiversity, with an emphasis on birds and bees. The results suggest that coffee farms may represent an important habitat for these species — something that could benefit both farmers’ yields and conservation of pollinators.