Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Building a buzz around the Big Bumblebee Discovery

Viewers of Sky News Sunrise were given a buzz this morning when Dr Helen Roy of CEH took to the studio with science presenter Dallas Campbell to talk about the fantastic Big Bumblebee Discovery citizen science project. Helen and CEH colleague Dr Michael Pocock are helping to run the project, which will use the data collected to address the question of how bees are affected by their immediate surroundings and the wider landscape.

The Big Bumblebee Discovery is the first project in the Great EDF Energy experiment, a collaboration between the British Science Association and EDF Energy.

Watch a video of their appearance on Sunrise here (also featuring the superb tree bumblebee model first seen at last year’s Gardeners’ World show!).

Helen and Dallas are having a busy few days both in encouraging children, teachers and parents to sign up to what is a fun and interesting initiative, but also in explaining the scientific usefulness of this hypothesis-led project. The pair were at the Cheltenham Science Festival on Saturday 8 June to talk to visitors to the EDF Energy Zone, where Big Bumblebee Discovery posters, games and other activities were available. (Michael had also visited a few days earlier to lend his encouragement to the hundreds of visiting school children, with many a budding citizen scientist among them).

Visitors to the Cheltenham Science Festival had a chance to learn about
the Big Bumblebee Discovery. Photo: Val Woods

And following their Sky News Sunrise appearance, expect to hear more from Helen and Dallas enthusing about the project on a local radio station near you.

Helen and Dallas record a BBC radio interview to explain more about getting
involved in the Big Bumblebee Discovery. Photo courtesy EDF Energy Comms

What’s it all about?

Bumblebees are prolific pollinators, but it’s believed that environmental changes are causing declines in some bumblebee populations.

The Big Bumblebee Discovery will provide an opportunity for school children through EDF Energy’s ‘The Pod’ programme to get involved in “real science”. Thousands of schools across the country are invited to observe and record colour groups of bumblebees visiting a standard-sized lavender plant. The CEH scientists, alongside the participants, will use the data to address the question: “how does landscape (at multiple scales) affect the diversity of bumblebees?”

  • The nationwide initiative involves children and parents counting the number and types of bumblebee they spot in their garden, school playground or local park.
  • Results will be used by CEH researchers to map bumblebee numbers across Britain and what impact the landscape has on bumblebee diversity.
  • The Big Bumblebee Discovery is the first project in the Great EDF Energy Experiment, a five-year programme launched in partnership with the British Science Association. The initiative is designed to inspire children to think differently about science, technology, engineering

Utilising a citizen science approach – the method of using a large number of researchers to each collect a sample of data – the Big Bumblebee Discovery is an exciting opportunity for thousands of young people to become scientists in their own back garden.

Don't forget to sign up by logging on to www.beediscovery.org. The first 3,000 schools to sign up to the experiment will receive a free lavender plant and engagement pack containing a range of fantastic resources to help them along the way – but anyone who signs up to The Pod to register interest in participating will be able to get their hands on a range of great tools to help them with the experiment.

Additional links

Bees and 'ologies at the Cheltenham Science Festival - CEH blog

The Pod programme from EDF Energy

Staff page of Dr Helen Roy

Staff page of Dr Michael Pocock

Posted by Paulette Burns

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