If you see a London bee with a number-plate this summer, don’t start questioning your sanity: biologists at Queen Mary University of London are tagging bees as part of The London Pollinator Project, which aims to locate bees’ preferred patches in the capital and identify their favourite flowers. Each bee is being fitted with an individually numbered weather-proof plastic tag, attached with super-glue. The first batch of 500 bees were released on June 21, and hundreds more will follow over the coming weeks.
To encourage Londoners to help them track the bees, prizes of £100 gift vouchers will be awarded for the best photo of a QMUL-tagged bee on a flower, the highest number of QMUL-tagged bees spotted and the best photo of a bee-friendly London garden.
Project leader Professor Lars Chittka says, “The fact that the bees have individual ‘license plates’ will allow anyone interested to develop their own science project. For example, 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.”
The project is also encouraging Londoners to plant flowers that are rich in nectar and pollen, like English lavender, viper’s bugloss or spiked speedwell. Other bee-friendly advice includes leaving dandelions and clover in lawns, avoiding pesticides, growing herbs and soft fruits, and providing a shallow bowl of water for the bees to drink.
Visit http://www.savelondonbees.co.uk/ to submit your pictures, learn more and get involved.