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Buzz Club Projects

By taking part in this project, Inverflora volunteers are helping the Goulson Lab, University of Sussex with their research.


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buzzclublogo

Pollinator Abundance Network ( P. A. N. )

PAN Traps

PAN Traps

The first project to be run under the Buzz Club banner, the ‘Pollinator Abundance Network’ (or P.A.N.) uses pan traps to measure the presence and abundance of lots of different groups of pollinators nationwide.

There is widespread concern that bees and other pollinators are in decline, worldwide and within the UK, but efforts to conserve these vital invertebrates need to be targeted; we need to know which ones are declining most and fastest.  To add to this information, PAN has been designed to bring together a network of volunteers from across the UK to take samples of their local pollinators, using pan-trapping over a period of 48 hours in the first few weeks of May, June, July and August.

The collected insects will then be sent to Sussex University for species identification, and allowing us to measure how abundant the different groups and species are.  The project was first run in 2014, with 50+ participants taking part in the initial trial.  The technique and the experience was well-received by our volunteers, and we found some interesting insects in the returned samples – so we are keen to run it again, at a larger scale, in 2017 and beyond!

New for 2018

Super Strawberries

SuperStrJune

In this project, the Buzz Club will investigate whether planting bee-friendly borage can improve the pollination of strawberry and result in bigger yields of fruit. To do this, participants are asked to record the number of pollinator visits to these plants once a week for 4-6 weeks, and then to compare the weight of fruit produced by two strawberry plants once they begin to produce berries.

The image shows the control strawberry & borage plants in late May, just before the flowers open.

 

Sow Wild

Wildflower Patch June

Wildflower Patch June

Bees and other pollinators depend on flower-rich habitats to provide them with vital pollen and nectar. Planting wildflower patches in farmland is known to increase numbers of bumblebees, but we do not know how well this approach works in urban environments.

Our 'Sow Wild!' project aims to find out.

With increasing urbanisation in the UK, it is important that we can understand the effects of changes on our pollinators, and whether there are simple techniques that we can use to boost pollinator populations in effected areas. Sow Wild! is one of several techniques and projects that we are running, that we hope will tell us more about how best to look after pollinators in gardens and other urban spaces.

Sow Wild Traps May

Sow Wild Traps May

Hoverfly Lagoons

Hoverfly Lagoon : May

Hoverfly Lagoon : May

The Hoverfly Lagoons Project
is being run by the University of Sussex with the aim of creating suitable habitats for hoverfly larvae in gardens.

There are more than 250 different hoverfly species in Britain, but this project will be focussed on those species that have an aquatic larval stage.  We expect these homemade lagoons to be particularly beneficial for species in the genera Eristalis and Myathropa.

In recent years, there has been much concern about the decline of pollinators in the UK and across the world, potentially leading to a pollination crisis and affecting flowering plants and crop yields. Most of the attention and research has been focussed on bees, which are vital pollinators and do need to be conserved, but other pollinators, including hoverflies, are similarly important and help enhance the pollination services that our crops and plants receive.

Larvae July

25 larvae were found in one of the grass lagoons

25 larvae were found in one of the grass lagoons

Previous Citizen Science Projects

Bees 'n Beans

This was a project for 2015 and repeated in 2016 : It was carried out In a garden in Inverkeithing, as it needed frequent monitoring.

Why are we interested in your garden bees?

Urban areas can be surprising havens for all sorts of wildlife, be it blue-tits feasting on leftover puddings, ladybirds overwintering in window-frames, or hedgehogs on slug-patrol in the borders. Gardens and allotments, with their carefully-maintained long periods of flowering, offer particularly important habitats, especially for insects and other invertebrates.

Pollination by insects is very important for many of the UK’s major crops, and concerns about current declines in bee populations, along with their ecology and conservation, are increasingly common in newspaper headlines. But while the insect contribution to agriculture is being investigated, the role these same creatures play in our urban environments shouldn’t go overlooked. Peas, beans, courgettes, tomatoes, apples, strawberries and many other garden favourites rely on insect pollination to some extent, and a loss of bees in gardens would be a huge problem as well.

The idea behind this project is to do a simple experiment, measuring how much pollination activity bees are managing across the country, and see if anywhere seems to be running low. The project method compares:

• Plants that are covered in a fine net, to keep out pollinators.

• Plants that are hand pollinated, to make sure that all the flowers are definitely pollinated.

• Plants that are left alone, free to the attentions of the local insects.

The plants used for this experiment are broad beans, and a flowering radish (the 'rat-tailed' radish). Both are easy to grow, with the dwarf variety of bean reaching an easily-manageable 50cm in height (rather than the several metres achieved by some of its ganglier cousins); the radishes are a little taller, but will not take up huge amounts of space. The flowers of both plants are attractive – to both bees and the eyes – and easy to hand-pollinate; plus we will be providing suggestions with what to do with your tasty pods at the end of the experiment.

The number and weight of the pods and beans / radish seeds are collected and compared across the country, seeing how well bees are doing at their pollinating. There are a couple of other things to count as part of the experiment – keeping an eye out for which visitors are present, and if any of them are cheating at the role – but the pod / seed counts are the most important.

The project began in April with planting of the seeds, and ends at harvest in July / August (exact end depends on the growth conditions of the plant - it tends to be later in the north).

Results :  July - slugs did a lot of damage to the bean plants and only 4 pods matured. The covered plant rotted completely. The radishes did better, although the covered plant attracted earwigs. Samples of mature radish seeds have been collected and counted. The project was been completed and the results sent in.

 

All About Alliums

This project ran during 2016 and monitored the viable seeds produced by alliums in open and enclosed situations.

 

  
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