Project Spotlight: Engaging Communities, Saving Bees - Using workshops and virtual engagement to change behaviours
Everybody loves bees – and thanks to extensive media coverage on the plight of our native pollinators, many people are aware that many species are under threat from habitat loss and lack of suitable flower resources in which to find nectar and pollen. Thankfully, there is something everyone can do to help!
Bee friendly gardens containing plants that can be both pleasing to the human eye and provide valuable resources for pollinators are something that anyone with a garden, roof terrace or balcony can create and provide ecologically viable urban spaces in which pollinators can access the resources that they need to survive.
Being in London we are in a great situation to provide these due to the city's unique characteristic as a global urban centre in which a very high percentage of the populace has access to their own patch of green land – the back gardens of the typical Victorian home. We are all free to choose the vegetation that is planted in these spaces and therefore can create the pollinator-friendly gardens that bees need.
Researchers at QMUL’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences will encourage planting pollinator friendly plants by holding two workshops to inform members of the public about the importance of pollinators for food security (one third of the food we consume is dependent upon pollinator activity) and how to create these areas. Demonstrations will take place in the form of stalls, talks and live-bee displays, with free seeds available along with instructions and guidance for planting.
Once participants go home they will be able to stay involved with the project by planting their seeds and keeping in touch online to record sightings of over 250 numbered bumblebees from five colonies based on the roof of the Fogg building on the Mile End Campus. Prizes will be available for the furthest sightings, with sightings expected within a 3km radius.
This will also feed into a follow up workshop, where people will be informed of the findings of the crowdsourced project, and feed back on their own observations, discussing what flowers they have seeded and planted and how they perceive the ecological benefits that they have helped create.
The information and interactive activities aim to engage the local community in the importance of cultivating these spaces for the bumblebee and the importance of doing so, hopefully leading to the provision of long-term benefits to local pollinator communities through providing the floral resources that wild and managed bees require.
The other aspect in terms of legacy will be a raised awareness level amongst communities about the needs of pollinators, and the value of generating eco-friendly gardens that provide both recreational value as well as being useful to support pollinator populations.
Observing bees in East London was provided with funding from the CPE Large Awards round. For further information on internal funding for public engagement visit our website.