ZooSoc Takeover: How to Bee Helpful

There are 20 species of bumblebee in Ireland. These fuzzy little insects play a key role in pollination. However, pesticides, climate change and disease are causing declines in bumblebee populations worldwide. As part of the “Irish Pollinator Initiative” a “Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme” has been set up. This citizen-science monitoring programme will provide a long-term dataset on changes in bumblebee populations over time in Ireland.

You can enjoy a nice walk around local parks or gardens while doing your bit to save the bees. Why not walk around campus and see how effective our Campus Pollinator Plan is!

Here is how you help collect data for the programme:

1. Learn your bumblebeesbumblebee-swatch

Before you go out into the field you’ll need to be able to identify some of the more common bumblebee species (check out Eoin’s blog, going live tomorrow!). The National Biodiversity Data Centre has a fantastic little swatch on bumblebee identification that can fit in your pocket. You can order one here.

2. Pick a route

Your route needs to be 1-2km in length, which would take under an hour to complete while walking slowly. If you’re in Dublin pick a park, or take a trip outside the M50 to find somewhere green! When you decide on a location make sure to let the organizers of the monitoring programme know.

3. Choose a day

To get accurate results you’ll need to monitor bumblebees on this route on eight separate occasions between March and October. Try to avoid collecting data in consecutive weeks and try to do the walks between 11:00 and 17:00 on days when weather conditions are suitable for bumblebees.

One of the great things about surveying bees is they tend to prefer nice weather too! Image credit: Pixabay, Creative Commons.

4. Record the bumblebees you see

Walk slowly along the route and count the number of each species of bumblebee you see within 2.5m either side of you. Make sure to write down the start and finish time of the walk and record the following conditions: average temperature, wind direction and wind speed (using the “Land Conditions” guide in the Beaufort Scale).

5) Upload Online

Once you have collected your data you can upload it online here.

A more detailed description of the monitoring scheme with full instructions can be found here.

The red-tailed cuckoo bee (Bombus rupestris) is one of Ireland’s four endangered bumblebee species. Image source: Andreas Schmitt, Wikimedia Commons.
By collecting these data you will allow researches, such as ecologists in Trinity, to study the long-term population dynamics of bumblebees, which is vital for their protection. So if you contribute to the “Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme” you can enjoy some time out in the natural world while feeling good for helping to save the bees!

This week ZooSoc are taking over CampusBuzz! Expect a new blog everyday written by student members of the society. Today’s entry was written by James Orr (@ZooSoc). James is in his 4th year of Zoology at TCD. His main areas of interest are trophic ecology, rewinding, and plant-animal interactions. He has a passion for wildlife photography – www.jamesorrphoto.com.



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