This summer Dr Helen Roy and Dr Michael Pocock from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology will help to run the Big Bumblebee Discovery, a citizen science project observing the diversity of bumblebees across the UK.

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 will be 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 Big Bumblebee Discovery is the first project in an exciting new programme, the Great EDF Energy experiment, a collaboration between the British Science Association and EDF Energy.

Getting involved in real science

During the Big Bumblebee Discovery school children and other participants will be invited to develop additional questions to explore with the data. This exciting extension will mean that the children don’t just contribute data but they can pose and answer questions, so getting even more involved in making scientific discoveries for themselves.

The observations will be used to discover how environmental changes impact on insect populations, an area of research that could have huge potential impact for our understanding of the future of food security, and climate change. The results will make a valuable contribution to our understanding of bumblebee ecology and they will be submitted for publication in a scientific journal.

To find out how to get involved in the Big Bumblebee Discovery, visit the Pod - part of EDF Energy's education programme.

Additional information

A recent citizen science study led by Dr Pocock – Conker Tree Science paper in PLOS ONE  (open access)

In 2012 Dr Roy and Dr Pocock were involved in a major project which produced a review of, and practical guide to, citizen science

You can read more from Dr Roy and Dr Pocock about the value of citizen science in the BSA online publication, People & Science.

Meet Dr Roy and Dr Pocock and find out more about their jobs as Ecologists at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. Watch the podcast 

Hear Dr Roy and Dr Pocock explain what Citizen Science is and why it's so important to take part in the Big Bumblebee Discovery. Watch the podcast 


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